Our wellbeing matters to God. Good self-care is a hallmark of mature discipleship. It will build resilience for ministry and the challenges of serving others.

Below are 12 essential actions we can take each year to help keep ourselves well, followed by 12 self-care resolutions we can make for ourselves.

12 important actions

1.Take your full entitlement to time off

For full-time clergy, as well as a weekly day off, you are encouraged to take an additional day off each month ensuring a regular pattern of two consecutive days off.
You are also encouraged to take at least one day a month for prayer and/or theological study outside of your parish or equivalent. Special clergy rates are available at particular retreat houses and conference centres. Please contact your Area office for more details.

2.Take your full entitlement to annual leave

You are encouraged to take all your annual leave and public holidays (as appropriate). Annual leave is 6 full weeks (or pro rata equivalent for part-time), which includes up to six Sundays. It is recommended that you diarise annual leave and time off at the beginning of the year as a priority.

3.Take an annual retreat

Retreats should properly be counted as part of your personal development rather than annual leave. The cost of retreats is not eligible for a CMD grant, but is a proper charge against expenses. Retreats are up to one week.

4.Claim all working expenses

The responsibility for ensuring that the working expenses of clergy and lay workers are reimbursed in full rests with Parochial Church Councils. Clergy and licensed lay workers who experience difficulty in obtaining reimbursement of properly incurred working expenses should, in the first instance, approach their Archdeacon. Additional guidance on working expenses is online here. And detail on a variety of grants for clergy and their households is available here.

5.Meet regularly with a Spiritual Director

If you do not have a spiritual director, the London Centre for Spiritual Direction can assist in this.

6.Seek and create personal prayer support

Intentionally create a sustainable group of like-minded friends to meet and pray with on a regular basis, to encourage each other and ask the more personal and ‘difficult’ questions. In addition to this, you are strongly encouraged to find others who will commit to praying for you on a regular basis for specific needs.

7.Take your Continuing Ministerial Development seriously

Discretionary Continuing Ministerial Development grants are available (normally up to £200 each year). Contact your Area Director of Ministry for more information. The Diocese’s CMD objectives are explained here, and the CMD policy is available to read here. The Diocese’s current CMD events are online and updated regularly.

8.Apply for additional financial support when needed

Please also talk to your Bishop or Archdeacon with regards to financial assistance in time of need. There are a number of grant-giving bodies that may also be able to assist you, at every stage in your career. General information is available in the Clergy Terms of Service and a detailed list of a variety of grants is available here.

9.Take additional annual leave every seven years

In addition to your normal entitlement, and in order to encourage a sabbatical principle of rest and spiritual refreshment, it is suggested that clergy take an additional holiday entitlement every seven years. Your entitlement in the seventh year would be increased by twelve days over and above the entitlement specified in your Statement of Particulars.

10.Apply for study leave every 10 years

Stipendiary clergy may apply for a three month period of study leave after ten years of ordained stipendiary ministry (and every ten years thereafter). Study leave will not normally be granted within the first two years of a new appointment, or within two years of expected retirement. A bursary is available from Diocesan funds for each approved study leave.
There is also some flexibility around the timings of study leave, which can be discussed with you Area Director of Ministry.

11.Prioritise your own physical, mental and spiritual health

Contact your Area Dean, Area Director of Ministry, archdeacon or bishop if you are feeling under undue pressure and there are things you would like to discuss. Additional support can be gained through:

  • The Sheldon Hub: a safe place for people in ministry to meet, share and support each other. Free to use
  • St Marylebone Centre for Counselling and Healing: where psychology and religion meet in the service of human flourishing and evolving to meet today’s needs
  • St Luke’s Healthcare for the Clergy: practical, supportive services for mental health and wellbeing
  • The Christian Healing Mission: healing and wholeness for yourself and to help you lead others along that path

12.Take your full entitlement to Maternity, Paternity, Parental and Adoption leave and pay

The Diocese of London offers in excess of statutory entitlements.

12 self-care resolutions

1. I am a child of God. I am unconditionally loved. My identity does not lie in my achievements. I will rest in God’s love and not strive for other’s approval. John 1:12

2. I am sent by God. God doesn’t make mistakes. My life has purpose. I will trust Him when I’m not sure what’s going on. Ephesians 2:8-10

3. I don’t have to hold it all together; that’s Jesus’ job. It’s OK to not always feel OK. I will get help for my spiritual, emotional and practical needs. Colossians 1:17-18

4. I will rest well. Jesus rested and I have permission to rest. In fact God commands me to rest. I will plan an on-going rhythm of work, rest and play. Matthew 11:28-30

5. I was made to enjoy a relationship with God. I will daily spend time reading the Bible, praying and doing whatever else helps me connect with God. Psalm 63:1-8

6. I am made for relationships with other people. I will intentionally invest in honest friendships. I will give and receive support in my church community. Proverbs 27:9 & 17

7. I am placed in relationships for God’s purpose. I will work with the local deanery, networks and teams to do life and ministry together. 1 Corinthians 12:12-20

8. Prayer support is a gift from God. I will regularly share prayer requests with my friends and supporters. Ephesians 6:19-20

9. My body is a gift from God. I will look after my body by exercising regularly, eating well and sleeping enough. 3 John 1:2

10. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I will treat it as such by not drifting into excess food, drink or other activities. 1 Corinthians 6.19-20

11. I am allowed to enjoy life. I will take time for activities I enjoy. Nehemiah 8:10

12. I will choose to give thanks. There are always things to give thanks for I will reject the temptation to grumble and give thanks instead. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I will also take time to read, pray, study and retreat.