On August 2, 2010, a column in the New York Times struck a chord with a number of my colleagues—by the end of the day it was posted on the Facebook pages of more than 30 of them. These friends had one important characteristic in common with each other and with me. Each had graduated from seminary in recent years and each was serving in some ministry context, often in congregations. The first paragraph of reporter Paul Vitello’s “Taking a Break from the Lord’s Work” told the story:

The findings have surfaced with ominous regularity over the last few years, and with little notice: Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.

Vitello describes the crisis of overwork among ministers and the prevalence of “boundary issues”—problems they have when they are too easily overtaken by the urgency of other people’s needs. How many weekends have been swallowed up by parishioners’ birthday parties, graduations and anniversary celebrations? How many vacations have been delayed or cut short by situations that simply couldn’t wait?