7 Keys to Balancing Ministry and Life

Balance in work and life is a key to long-term success.  We are not called to serve God for a 5 year window...we are called to serve Him for life.

For that to happen, we've got to find balance.  Easier said than done.  There is always one more person to reach...one more family to help...one more email to answer...one more phone call to make...one more event to pull off.

We keep telling ourselves that it will slow down...yeah right!  Newsflash...it will never slow down.

The only way you'll find balance is to make time to slow down.

Our children's ministry has been on a run.  A fun...exciting...adventurous run.  In the last 6 months we've opened up 2 new campuses, completed a building project, started 2 more building projects, produced original curriculum, on-boarded hundreds of new volunteers, started 2 more weekend services, and the list goes on and on.

We realized after all this that everyone needed some time to breathe.  So, as a staff and volunteers, we have purposely slowed down for a season.  We've cancelled a lot of staff meetings, cancelled some events, given everyone an extra day off each week, and not scheduled anything additional.

Why?  Because we want to go the distance.  Ministry work is a marathon, not a sprint.  You can sprint on a 100 hard dash...but you can't sprint on a marathon...if you want to finish.  You have to pace yourself.

Here's 7 keys to pacing yourself so you can finish strong.

Monitor how many hours you work. 
How many hours a week are you working?  It's easy to slip into 60-80 hours a week if you're not careful.  Especially if you're salary.  Determine how many hours you're going to work on an average week and stick to it.  Yes, there will be short seasons when you have to work more hours, but that should be the exception and not the norm.

Don't think you can do it?  Yes, you can.  If you choose to do so.  Andy Stanley, the pastor of one of the largest churches in the country, works 45 hours a week...because he chooses to.  Who benefits?  His family...which is our most important ministry.   You can read more about that here.

Turn off technology.
Technology has made it very easy to bring work home.  For years, I made the mistake of leaving work and going right back to work when I got home.  I would work at home until 11 pm or later.  And it cost me.  I still have to resist the temptation, but I'm doing much better at this.  I have to if I'm going to be doing ministry work 10 years from now. 

Take your day off.
If you're not taking your day off, then your life is out of balance.  You will burn out.  I know by experience.  It lead me to a dark place.  You can read more about that here.

Use your vacation time.
I've got a ton of stuff to do.  But I'm leaving tomorrow for a 6 day vacation.  My drive tells me that I can't afford to go on vacation.  But my Bible and body tell me I must go on vacation.  I must come apart to rest or I will come apart and be no good for anyone.  Use...your...vacation...time!

Focus on a few programs and events.
Take a look at your ministry calendar.  Is it overflowing with events and programs?  Find some balance.  Cut some stuff.  Cancel some stuff.  Focus on doing a few things well.  I talk more about this here

Know when to slow down.
Watch your spiritual, emotional, and physical gas needle.  Know when it's time to stop and fill back up.  Know when your team needs to rest.  Instead of just plowing on ahead...be intentional about interjecting times of rest and refreshment. 

When you are home...be home.
When you get home...be home.  Be a father...be a husband or wife.  Be home not only physically, but also emotionally.   Your spouse needs you to present...your kids need you to be present.  The work will be there when you return tomorrow.  For now...just relax and seize the life balance opportunity God has provided you.