Our Common Life…

“Bodily labor alleviates the pains of the mind; and hence arises the happiness of the poor.”

                                                                        – Francois, Duc de la Rochefoucauld

It’s been a long time since I last earned a living by putting my back into it. I spent a few college summers breaking up concrete with a 12-pound sledge, but since then I don’t think I’ve swung anything heavier than a brief case. Nevertheless, I know enough about work that I’ve never been too impressed by people who talk about how physical labor makes you noble. In my experience, it just makes you tired. Call me a skeptic, but I suspect most people who claim that work is its own reward have either (1) never done manual labor or (2) are really just looking for a way to pay people who actually do manual labor in some coin other than coin of the realm.

Whether or not physical labor is ennobling many of us, especially those of us in the ministry, we no longer earn our bread with our backs. We work in a world where we’ve traded our wheelbarrows for word processors, our hammers for smart phones. This disconnect from physical labor may have done wonders for our aching backs, but it has left us suffering from a kind of emptiness, a spiritual malaise captured by Fruteland Jackson in “Blues 2.0”:

 Nine to five, workin’ nine to five

And we won’t get out of these blues alive

When will it end I don’t know

I got the nine to five blues or Blues 2.0


Never picked any cotton, ain’t split no rails

I traded in my hammer for a hundred E-mails


                                                                “Blues 2.0”     

                                                               © Warimo Music BMI 2003

 Finding a way to deal buy azithromycin dosage with this post-industrial angst is a key component of self-care. I’m not sure there is a single silver bullet, that one sure-fire way to cope that fits us all; and I know that we all need to find our own way through the blackness. But we don’t need to do it alone. For years, the Iowa Conference has offered its authorized ministers a program to help feed their spiritual hunger. It’s called SAG.

The SAG program, like many aspects of the way we do conference ministry in Iowa is currently undergoing a complete rethink. Because we are a church and because church people place inordinate store in names, the first step in this rethink was to rename the program. The rather inelegant SAG acronym has been replaced. Our SAG program is now CCPE. Support, Accountability and Growth has become Covenant Communities for Pastoral Excellence.

More has changed than just the name. We have completely rethought the way our spiritual enrichment program should work. In January we will be holding an in-service training session for CCPE coordinators and in the coming months we will be trotting out an entirely new program. We have kept the best features of the SAG program, especially the sense of covenant, the idea that we are all committed to making this program work, to supporting our colleagues and to treating self-care and spiritual growth as matters of highest priority. But there will be new features as well; features we hope will make participation in the program even more rewarding.

Stay tuned. There may be a way out of the Blues 2.0, after all.

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