Today we are hearing from our second main author on “Healthy Pastors.” Todd Owen has had a wide verity of ministry experience and can easily speak to the need for spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health for long term and full-time Christian Service. My partnership in the work with Todd goes back to the early 90s when I think he went by “Spike” at Ozark Christian College. Todd works with New Mission Systems International and also blogs here. So for now, enjoy, comment, and look for more to come.
I’ve been writing newsletters for over twenty years, mostly as a missionary but also the church newsletter when I was a pastor. One consistent piece of advice I’ve had over the years is that every newsletter should have wide margins and lots of white space. When the page is uncluttered it is easier for the reader to follow what’s being written rather than being distracted by the noise and visual dissonance on the page. As often as possible, even when I was tempted to write too many words and cram too much into a given space, I cut the verbiage down, simplified, and kept the message straightforward.
I’ve read a lot of newsletters over the years. The ones that don’t respect the rule of white space usually send a shiver through my soul and create an inner cringe. The writer’s all-too-important message is lost in the crowd (of words).
If the rule of white space is true for a newsletter, what does it look like when applied to a life? Your life is on display. People are following the lines of your life’s message. Do they see a bedraggled and bloodshot pastor barely making it from week to week, trying to put a good face on it but essentially drying up and burning out piecemeal?
In our increasingly chaotic society, it is vital that when people view our story, they see plenty of white space: God-ordained and –called order. As they see this, the likelihood that they will see the Word amidst the words of our lives is increased by a factor of 10? 100? 1,000? Who can say?
The reality check is that most of our friends aren’t used to seeing an uncluttered life. It may take them a while to adjust to it. Don’t let that stop you. Try a few things on for size and see what change they bring in your walk with Christ and your ministry.
First, reflect on the letter written to the church in Ephesus as recorded in Revelation 2:1-6. What is the Spirit speaking to your heart about first love? Does this impact your view of busyness/margin?
Second, schedule in a Sabbath space in your week. Turn off the iPhone, leave the laptop at home, unplug from the digital and engage . . . quietness. Attune your ears to the still small voice. For me, that usually involves a park, the beach at sunset (I live in SW Florida), or journaling on a park bench. It may be different for you.
Third, schedule Sabbath spaces in your day. Take a few minutes every few hours to relax, meditate on a Scripture verse, or pray.
Give your “readers” the benefit of uncluttered message through the “white space” in your life.