I remember a conversation in about 1984/5 as I finished my training for ministry. He probably doesn't recall but it was with Graham Archer (now on the staff of CPAS). The gist of it was an observation that almost all the clergy we had shadowed during our training worked hard enough to make themselves unwell, had little down time, failed to keep up with reading and often sacrificed their day off to complete tasks.
We both became people who enjoyed the clergy life and have never discussed it since, but I have lived with the thought in my mind ever since that not being exhausted is better than being exhausted and have tried to work slowly and steadily with regular breaks.
Don't get me wrong. I have some long and busy days. But if the previous working day ends, as it sometimes does, at 10.00 p.m. I don't beat myself up by having an early start the next day.
I take a decent lunch break if working at home and read or catch up on TV. If there are no evening appointments I stop work at 6.30 p.m. I don't accept more than three evening bookings Monday to Thursday.
So having had a bit of bonus responsibility thrust my way recently which, if you add it up, is an extra ten days work a year, I have resigned from two diocesan committees that require at least seven, to begin to compensate.
'Were those things you enjoyed doing?' asked a member of our Church Council at a meeting last night.
Well yes they were. But I imagine I will grow into enjoying being Acting Rural Dean for as long as that lasts.
It must be possible to work modestly and effectively. It is better to work a gentle year and have no time off sick if the alternative is to cram your work into your remaining healthy days when you are not signed off with stress (I accept that overwork is not the only cause of stress and I have little daily travel stress).
And it is why, in a busy week with lots of things to do, I am having a quiet day to read and think because that is what helps me be a better leader. And why writing this reflection is both cathartic for me and possibly helpful to others and thus a good use of my time.
I'll keep you up to date as to how I get on. Thursday this week looks particularly stupid as a number of things I do all conspire to be on the same day.
It isn't easy. But it must be possible.