I have felt drawn to serve the church in a pastoral/leadership capacity for the better part of ten years now. I started out voluntarily leading the youth group at the church that I had grown up in as well as playing in the worship band each week. At 19 years old, I really didn’t have a problem with lock-ins, worship practice, and filling in for two or three other worship bands throughout my community on any given week. Let’s just say I was in a stage of life that was rich in the resource of time and poor in the resource of experience.
Since then, I’ve gotten married to an incredible woman with a clear calling to ministry and have had three boys of whom we are the primary disciplers. I’ve also been serving Canyon View Vineyard for almost five years full time in a youth and young adult staff role. My life’s rhythm has clearly shifted from when I first began down the road of pastoral ministry. It would be insane for me to keep the same pace today that I did when I was single and had more free time. I believe balance to be somewhat of a myth in that there is no one-size-fits-all sweet spot that suits everyone, but I have tried to hold to a few guiding principles to help our family stay healthy throughout the busier stages of life in vocational ministry.
This seems like a no brainer, but I can tell you from experience that even some of the brighter crayons in the box can let this slip from time to time. The reality is that, when you are a part of a family, one member’s commitment is everyone’s commitment. Every time that you agree to a wedding, funeral, baptism at the river, or any of the other glorious things that may arise in ministry, your spouse in committing to parenting without you or dinner for one vs. quality time. That is why it is so crucial to stack hands on these extra commitments together before anyone agrees to anything. This is particularly tricky because the things that we get asked to do after hours are often the most life-giving, rewarding things.
We all know that life in vocational ministry comes in waves of busyness and that some parts of the calendar are more bloated than others. For example, if you have a lot of seniors graduating from your ministry, you know that late spring includes attending more grad parties than you can count, and getting healing prayer for the cramping in your hand from writing in journals! If you do any kind of retreat, camp or conference, the months leading up to that can be grueling. It is necessary and wise for you to advocate for yourself to take some extra family time before and after such increased volumes of work. This sends a message to your family that they are valued far above the projects at the church, and it ultimately provides margin for you to stay connected to the Father.
Sabbath is one of the most overlooked commandments for churches in the Western world. We are an over-caffeinated, over-stimulated culture puts those who constantly work on a pedestal. It is so easy for us as ministry leaders to find ourselves following suit with the rest of society. The only problem is that doing so in sinful. If we work with a mindset that says that we need to be constantly pushing things forward, we inadvertently say the fruit of the Kingdom depends on us instead of God. It will not be easy to let your foot off the gas pedal to rest and worship God but, if we take God at His word, we will find that it will keep our rhythms healthy and holy unto God. I confess that this is so hard for me to do, but the Lord has been convicting me to fight for Sabbath.
May the Lord bless the work of your hands, youth ministry warriors! Let’s keep going out and working for the glory of God as He moves in the lives of the students in our communities.