It has been a great season but a tiring one.
For the last 2 years I feel our ministry was running on all cylinders. We had a full team, amazing volunteers and student leadership was killing it. We had two years of taking new ground and trying new things. I love those seasons.
Since the beginning of the year I have not been in that season. One staff member went to another campus (which is awesome) and another went back to her home church (also awesome) and I have been in a season of covering a lot of areas in which I have not had to do in two years. Maybe you have been in seasons like this where you have had some amazing volunteers who take the load off of a program night, or leading a small group and you didn’t have to worry about “that thing” because they got it and then all of a sudden, work came up and they could not do it anymore. They were once able to do a task or take over an area and it was extremely helpful for you but now they cannot and you are the one ultimately responsible for the ministry, needs to pick up “that thing” now.
I’m tired man.
I was texting my good buddy Josh Griffin just venting a little bit and he said I needed to downshift in this season. Meaning I need to pace myself a little bit in order to last for the long haul. Meaning I could not do all the things I was doing plus the things I now needed to pick up from others moving on. I know I could do it for a bit but it would not be sustainable.
Now to be clear because I know some “super” youth workers will get all up in arms about not hanging out with students, I’m not saying I am not hanging out with students and being lazy. I’m saying for a season, it is okay to pull back on ALL the things you do so you can last through the season.
So here are some things I have been doing in order to downshift a little in ministry and try to do what needs to be done and not skip a beat in ministry.
Communicate with your supervisor: This one is big. You don’t want to downshift without communicating because then your supervisor will think you are just lazy. I had a conversation and just let him know how I am feeling in this season and here are some things I am going to be doing so I can last until we have a full team again. He is a great leader so he understood and now he knows why I am not doing certain things.
Pull back on lunches: Campus ministry is a huge part of what we do. We are on campuses at least twice a week… minimum. It’s a lot but it’s good. In this season, I pulled back to one and I have been going home for lunch a lot more to hang with my wife and my boy. It’s something that fills me up and in a season where I feel like I am doing a lot of pouring out, getting filled up is KEY.
Cleared my Wednesday schedule: When things were all in place, Wednesdays were pretty easy days for me. I would have meetings on Wednesdays and still have a good time to go over my message for that night. Now, I tried to keep the same schedule and I feel like I almost died (I didn’t but it sure felt like it). I have to do a lot more hands on set up for the time being so I now spend the mornings going over my message for the night one last time and then after lunch, it’s set up mode. Our band, tech people, students and volunteers start showing up and getting ready for the night and I can be in the right head space to be there and be present.
Force go to the gym/home: In this season I have been doing a HARD STOP at 4pm. In crazy busy seasons I feel like I need to work all the time to keep up. Truth is…. I don’t need to. So no matter what is happening in the day, I stop at 4pm and I go to the gym. For me, getting my blood pumping and listening to some good hard core music is a great stress relief and good decompression before going home…. so when I am home, I can BE HOME.
Put leaders in place to pick up some areas: It is amazing how much I realized how controlling I can be. I try to hold onto everything when things are busy because I think I am the only one who can do things right. How arrogant is that? I hate that about myself. Your leaders are more than capable to take some things off your plate. And they want it. They want to own sections of your night. We have a great set up crew, I do nothing. We have a great pastoral care team to help meet with students and leaders who need it. We have a tech team in which I just need to send them all my notes and announcements and they make everything. It’s amazing and I am so thankful for them.
Pull back on games/plays: I know, this one hurts a bit. But in this season, I am not going to games or plays (let’s be honest, who wants to go to plays anyways?). But it’s just time and when you’re in a busy season, time is limited. Usually in busy seasons, your family feels it the most. I would rather disappoint a student for not going to their game than disappointment my family for not being home for dinner. Sorry, not sorry. Like I said, it’s just for a season until we are running on all cylinders again.
So those are things that I am doing to downshift in this season to make sure I last. I am sure there are many more ways to do so in ministry, and I would love to hear about some of the things you all do. Comment below!