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Relevance Deprivation Syndrome

It’s election time in parts of our country, so politicians have been wildly racing about promising to splash the cash anywhere that might mine a few votes out of the tailings that make up the already mined swinging voters.

In an interview with a couple of former politicians, an interesting phrase popped up in the following context from a former party leader:

”Everyone tells you when you leave you’re going to suffer relevance deprivation syndrome. And when you first leave, it takes some adjustment.” When a natural disaster hit his state he admits, he ”felt relatively useless at a time when there were a lot of things to be done in government.

Other former politicians when interviewed for the article touched on a couple of things that rang my “burned out leader” bells as well.

”If I had not got out of that particular spotlight, or cauldron, or whatever analogy you want to use, I would be a much less happy person. For me, [retiring] was an overwhelming relief.”

Relief is the word another uses too.

”A lot of people complain that they miss the phone ringing,” she says. ”Oh! Joyful! To be able to play music and not have it constantly interrupted by the sound of a mobile!”

When I resigned from ministry thirteen months ago, I too was relieved. I could no longer sustain the weight of responsibility with debilitated mental health. I was too worn down, the nerves too frayed. The toll on my marriage and family life too high and help was too late.

I remember hating my mobile phone ringing. I would rarely answer it. I rarely answer it today and even less our home phone. I just don’t like talking to people. I still haven’t fully recovered. I avoid ringing people back. I don’t know why. I much prefer to text….

And I definitely suffer relevance deprivation syndrome. Aalthough it’s not technically a scientifically recognized affliction it does help to put a label on how I usually feel. One has described it as

“Someone who used to be not just important or famous but useful, no longer is. Their opinion was sought on important decisions, they were kept informed and people needed their permission to do things. Now someone else runs the show and things happen that they don’t know the details of, rationale for and aren’t consulted about. It’s a bit like growing old and watching the teenagers smoke their heroin tablets and run on your lawn.”

Makes me wonder why pastors and leaders are deemed so important in the first place.


3 Responses

  1. For you Jack

    I have called you back from the ends of the earth,
    saying, ‘You are my servant.’
    For I have chosen you
    and will not throw you away.
    Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God
    I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

    Isaiah 40:9-10

  2. Oops got the chapter wrong, Isaiah 41:9-10

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