Unfortunately, these are words that have become synonymous with leading a ministry. Why? Because we are so busy concentrating on helping others connect with God that we forget that we also need to connect with God. While we encourage parents and volunteers in our ministry to prioritize well: God, then family, then work; we think that because we are in ministry that somehow our work moves to the front of our line. And while our work is for God, our work is NOT God, or our relationship with Him.
Deep down we all know this. We all want to prioritize our own spiritual journey. But let’s face it…. typically the first thing that we sacrifice to make it all happen are our own personal needs because they feel selfish. Maybe you are reading this and find yourself in a season where you feel spiritually dry? It might even be difficult to remember the last time you were able to attend your own worship service without worrying about the numbers flashing on the screen — which always indicate there is an issue back in children’s ministry! Trust me, you are not alone. The good news is that you can control your ministry instead of your ministry controlling you.
As a ministry leader, you have the opportunity to lead the way in setting healthy boundaries to allow yourself time for your relationship with God and your family. You get to lead by example! As leaders in ministry, our role is to equip others to do the work of the ministry — not for us to do it all ourselves. Taking it all on yourself leads to big time burn out. Not only will it leave you spiritually dry, but your volunteer pool will be extremely shallow because no one wants to jump on a train that is driving your live out of control. People will be inspired to join a ministry that you lead….not one that leads you.
To actually do all that God has called us to do, we must set boundaries for ourselves when it comes to our JOB in ministry. So, practically speaking, what does this look like?
Go to adult worship service. Make it your number one priority to find someone to fill the role you are filling in the children’s ministry area on Sunday morning. I can hear your list of excuses on this, so you can just stop your “yeah, buts…” I’ve heard them all, and none so far have trumped the importance of you having the opportunity to connect with other adult believers in a time of worship and teaching that you receive and are not giving! If you are a part of a one-service church, make it your goal to have someone fill in for you twice a month. Pray for this person and then open your mouth and start asking people to fill this spot for you!
Make your own quiet time a priority. Find a place, a time and a study that will be inviting and motivating for you. Again, this is the advice we give others and have a hard time following ourselves. Give yourself the time to hear from God and to allow HIM to refuel your heart and your mind. This will set you up to accomplish the most for Him because you are allowing HIM the room to speak to you, lead you and encourage you.
Turn it Off
Create a “no interruptions” zone at your home during dinner/homework/bed time. Phones are fancy these days. You can even set it to tell people “I’m spending time with my family right now, so I will get back to you by X time”. And then turn the device OFF-not on vibrate, but OFF. This will create relational capital with your spouse and your children that will blow your socks off!! I know you love them that much, now show them!
Schedule intentional days off and vacation time. I know ministry is busy. I know there are emergencies. I know the list is endless. But to be able to serve from a healthier place, plan yourself some time off. Each school semester and summer, plan two days off (during the week) to give your full time and attention to your children. Plan things that will be painful monetarily and relationally if you “have to” back out of the commitment at the last minute. This will make you think twice before you cancel on your kids! Put your family vacation on the calendar 6-8 months ahead-book flights, hotel rooms/rental homes, etc with high cancellation fees. Again, the idea being, that you will seriously think twice before you back out and disappoint your whole family.
What we are doing “in ministry” is not the only legacy we are leaving. Our MOST lasting and impactful legacy will be our relationship with God and with our spouse and children. Set boundaries in your work, which happens to be in ministry, to honor that legacy!
For more about leading yourself well, read:
The Easiest Way To Be Disappointed In Yourself And Your Ministry
Leading From Your Strength
Three Tips for Staying Energized in Ministry
Book Recommendation: Do More Great Work