Have you ever been so worn-out from all of the work you’ve been doing that even before getting out of bed in the morning you feel tired? Try as you might, you just can’t seem to catch up with the high-speed ministry train. It can feel discouraging to think that there is no way to stop and get a hold of your life. Sometimes, right when you feel like you are finally catching up, you realize there is a new series that is about to begin, an all-staff meeting coming up or a “situation” that calls for your attention. As the clock ticks on, you wonder when you can just fall down and sleep. If this wasn’t burdensome enough, you are also a friend and family member, and maybe a spouse and parent, and you feel as if you are simultaneously neglecting all of these areas. What do you do?
Try This! ❯
Take the time this week to assess if you are juggling too many responsibilities. If so, make a game plan to lighten up your load so that you can take care of yourself and the responsibilities that God has entrusted to you.
Chances are if you have been in ministry long enough, you’ve experienced this at some point—and perhaps you are experiencing it right now. Many would suggest to just power through, but will this really help in the long run? The students in your youth ministry (and everyone else who is in contact with you) can tell when you are trying to fly the plane on empty, and if you don’t take the time to land in order to refuel for gas, then you’re going to crash. Here is a freeing thought: Your life matters! God isn’t exclusively concerned with your students; He cares about you, too! Plus, it’s inevitable that your efforts to build a Gospel Advancing Ministry will suffer if you are not taking care of yourself. Here are 3 reasons why you need to take care of yourself:
1. You Can’t Juggle it All
Many youth leaders start their ministry journey while they are young. There is nothing wrong with that; teenagers like young leaders! Being young usually lends itself to having energy and being relatable to students. But there is a common problem that can be seen with any person in ministry—especially those who are younger—you don’t know when to stop.
Running a ministry can be like juggling balls. You have so many responsibilities that you are juggling—like follow-up, baptisms, classes, small groups, discipleship, outreach, mission trips and so on. If that wasn’t enough, sometimes other ministries and members of the church will regularly ask for help. I remember one week in particular (now called the kill me now week) when I needed to run a student event, teach a class, prepare and lead the Wednesday night service, write out the annual budget, meet for one-on-one discipleship and spare some time for an elderly woman in our church who needed help moving, all while being a part-time, 15 hour a week, married, youth pastor who was in seminary. By the end of the week, I was ready to flee the country and take a different name.
When you are juggling a full-load, you need to know your limits. You may be able to juggle ten balls in the air, but there is a limit to every clown’s juggling skills, and if you don’t realize this, you’ll eventually feel like a clown! That is, each time you take a new responsibility on you are adding another ball to juggle. It is quite possible that you can be a high capacity person who can juggle a lot, but there will come a point when you will juggle one ball too many. And when you do, you won’t just drop one ball, you’ll drop them all.
2. There is Always Something Good That Can Be Done
One of the hardest lessons any leader can learn is saying no. This one syllable word is the equivalent of speaking a foreign language to some youth leaders. Some of you may be unaware of what this word actually means since it’s been so long since you actually uttered it. Saying no is one of the most freeing words that every youth leader needs to get used to. Here’s the cold hard truth about being in ministry: There is always something good that can be done. There is always one more person that needs to be reached; one more conversation that could be had; and one more cat that needs to be rescued from a tree. The sooner you accept that there is always something good that could be done, the closer you will be to better managing your life.
Communicate that you are at max capacity. If someone from the church (or outside of it) asks you to take on another responsibility, and you know that you cannot handle it, simply explain to them that you are running at max capacity. Remember, church members often times go to the pastors and leaders for help before going to members of the congregation. This isn’t a bad thing, but it can be if you are always saying yes. By saying no, you are actually encouraging that individual to look for other leaders within the church body, thus, spreading the blessing and burden of leadership. After all, the entire church is supposed to advance the gospel—not just the pastors. We are all in ministry together!One of the hardest lessons any leader can learn is saying no. Click To Tweet
3. A Healthy Life Communicates Your Commitment to Jesus
Teenagers aren’t just interested in what you know about the Bible, but how you live life in its entirety. Believe it or not, they will take notice of what you eat, how you dress, when you spend time with your family, what you do for fun and how you live outside of youth ministry. No, this doesn’t mean that you need to become a fashion model or start a trendy diet. Rather, it remind us that the Christian life is not just about going to church, singing songs and reading Scripture. Be mindful of the way you live because it is communicating a message (either good or bad) to your students. By managing your life well, you will be able to lead well.
If you are reading this article and find yourself overwhelmed by your workload, then here are some helpful ways to get back on track:
- Set a reasonable timeframe for you to readjust your schedule. Evaluate what you have going on in your calendar to help you figure out what you need to do and, perhaps, what you can take out. Once you have figured this out, make a plan. Say to yourself (and anyone else who may be accountable for you like your spouse) that in X amount of weeks, I’m going to work towards lightening my load.
- Take advantage of resources. Don’t be afraid to purchase some resources that will help you better manage your ministry. Using a multi-week curriculum from Dare 2 Share can help you have extra time planning or concentrating on other ministry areas. In my own youth ministry, I am going through Life In 6 Words so that I can teach my students the GOSPEL acrostic as well as have some extra time to plan out my ministry calendar.
- Communicate with your boss what you are trying to do—they’ll understand. Every pastor, even your lead pastor, knows this struggle well, and they will admire you for trying to get better organized. Make sure you communicate with them that you aren’t trying to do less; rather, you are trying to avoid burnout and make a long-term sustainable ministry lifestyle. If you do this, your family, friends, spouse, students and you will all benefit. Most importantly, this will help you protect your spiritual relationship with God.
Effectively modeling a Gospel Advancing Ministry lifestyle, includes taking care of your own relationship with Jesus, your family and yourself.