- Four or five bean bags, small stuffed animals, or other soft objects for throwing
In this activity, participants toss a bean bag or other soft object to one another while naming tasks and people that demand their time and attention on a daily or weekly basis.
Explain that you will name one task or person from congregational life, home life, or work life that you must attend to. You will then toss a beanbag to a random participant. That person will also name something or someone that calls on their time and attention, and then immediately toss the beanbag to another random person—and so on.
Point out that people of different cultures, genders, and ages may face very different expectations with regard to the responsibilities they take on, including for the care of others. Say that the object of this activity is to generate a list and ask that participants not comment on what anyone else shares.
Have the group form a circle. Start the game, and encourage participants to go as quickly as possible.
Once a rhythm is established, add a second tossed object, then a third and a fourth, in turn. Adding tossed objects will require participants to watch in several directions for the next ball and think quickly of tasks or people to name. Continue the game for about five minutes or until everyone has had a chance to speak a few times.
Ask participants how they felt as they played the game:
- Did the game feel stressful? Silly? Some participants may have felt mild stress due to the speed of the game, the need to think under pressure, the number of objects, and the increased difficulty of thinking of things to name. Some participants may have responded with laughter and giddiness.
- Was it easier or harder to identify demands on your time and attention as the game proceeded? Why?
Say, “Every one of us carries multiple responsibilities and must pay attention to things coming at us from many different directions.” Invite the group to reflect for a moment on this experience.
Tell participants that it is important for them as leaders to develop ways to care for themselves in both body and spirit, because (1) their well-being is essential to their continuing the work, and (2) their approach to self-care sets a tone for others in the congregation. Part of self-care includes telling the truth to ourselves and others about the responsibilities we hold and carry and about the sources of support available to us.
Including All Participants
If any participants cannot catch or throw an object around the room, have participants call out the name of the next person who must answer. For example, “I help my parents with their bills. Bill, you’re next.” Encourage everyone to be random in calling on the next person, so participants cannot anticipate their next turn.