We’ve all been there. The phone rings in the middle of the night. That lengthy email comes in. Or we receive that infamous question on facebook, “Can you talk?”
No matter how it may present itself, ministry can seem to inondate us with never ending demands at any moment in our life. We try to plan our schedules and be there for everyone, but eventually someone gets missed and we get burnt out. So how do we plan the hours of our ministry.
While this resides in a larger topic of issues and concerns to consider; I want to offer just a few suggestions to include in evaluating your schedule.
Protect your Sabbath
Believe it or not, life will continue without you. This may sound harsh, but I think it may be necessary to be firm on this one. This isn’t to say don’t be diligent in planning. Have someone in place who can be your backup and temporary buffer for those emergencies during your day off. However, you HAVE TO unplug. This is the biggest mistake youth workers and those in ministry make. Just because “it’s for the Lord” doesn’t mean it’s reason to break this commandment.
Need Help with this?
Check out a great resource which can help you protect your Sabbath here: “What Matters Most”
Guard your Family Time
Our family comes second, only to our PERSONAL relationship with God (don’t get this confused with ministry). If ministry is impeeding on the needs of your family, you are doing to much. God can get things done without you being there all the time. You may want to argue this point and I totally understand where you’re coming from, this has been probably my biggest struggle. In ministry we tend to be the martyr and say, “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.” However, the truth is, we would be proclaiming a lie. You need to re-evaluate your schedule and your focus. It may mean saying no to some great ministry opportunities so that you can support and spend time with your family. Realize that your family is your home base. If you are not re-enforcing your base then you are leaving the door open for the enemy to destroy it from the inside out while you are gone. Make sure you guard your home base. It is where you will retreat from the battles of ministry and be encouraged to keep going when the tough times of life hit. You need your family just as much as your family needs you.
Put ministry on hold for the big things
Let me first say, this point does not break the first two. Keeping the first two points in mind, there will be times you need to cancel or pull out of a meeting or other ministry event in order to do ministry. You may of just said “huh?” Let me explain. There will come a time where a student gets injured and is in the hospital, there may come a time when a death happens or when a student just got arrested. These are just a few of many possible scenarios that may occur during the time in ministry. It’s okay to reschedule and clear your schedule to make yourself available for these times in ministry which require your immediate attention. Sometimes this means getting up at a late hour or “working” past 5pm. Ministry is a 24 hour cycle. That doesn’t mean we are required to be working 24-hours at it (see points 1 & 2), but ministry doesn’t happen only between 9am-5pm.
Last thought – Partner Up!
Get a partner in ministry. If you are “THE GUY” in your ministry, something is seriously wrong. I think where we get in trouble here is looking for someone who is just like us. You’re not superman. Your partner in ministry will have different qualities than you and may need help succeeding in an area of ministry which comes naturally for you, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be your best allie. Our differences are what make a strong team. You are making a fatal mistake if you try to lead in ministry alone. Don’t make this mistake, learn from my mistake and listen to this point, please!
The disciples went in pairs to share the gospel. Heck, even Jesus Christ didn’t do ministry alone. He brought 12 people with him wherever he went. Having a ministry partner is not a weakness; partnering up is a sign of wisdom, which is a strength.