We are in a season that can seem crazy. I’ve read blog posts and Facebook posts, listened to podcasts, and heard sermons echoing the idea that the Christmas season can be overwhelming for some, draining for others, and rarely expectant for anybody. We can have a deeper conversation about the reality of that busy schedule compared to the perception of it being more intense, but that’s for another time. My question is this: How filled up are you?

Whether it is the Christmas season, Camp season, or planning season, ministry can be the offensive lineman that gets in the way of staying close to Christ, personally. Time that was intended for personal connection turns into a sermon-writing session; margin that was intended to set some personal goals morphs into finding projector replacements for the youth room; space that was cleared to sit and soak in Scripture evolves into dreaming about new leaders for your ministry.

Funny thing – I didn’t have to look far for those examples because they happen to me all the time. But a friend once said to me, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” That was an astute observation. So, here’s three ways to stay filled up in this season:

  1. Disconnect from Connection – Ok, maybe not for the entire season, but why not for a few hours? One of the easiest ways for me to create a sanctuary around me is to turn on the “Do Not Disturb” feature on my phone, computer, tablet, whatever is around me, and pop some earphones in. Here’s the good news: The world will most likely continue to rotate around the sun even though you aren’t available to it for an hour or two a week.
  2. Plan to Prioritize – In my world, whatever gets scheduled gets done. I think I heard that from another leader sometime in the journey, but it is so true. If you haven’t cleared room on your schedule, there’s a hot chance it really isn’t that much of a priority. That probably feels a bit harsh, yet it rings true way more than it doesn’t. Put margin on your calendar and prioritize it like crazy.
  3. Learn something new – After 12 years of ministry, one of the easiest things for me to do is to think that everything that I’m learning is for the people I lead. A simple way to change that is to listen to truth from people that have been where I want to be. My favorite way to do this is to fire up the podcast app, the DYM Podcast Network, or another resource and just sit, listen, and take notes. When we want to learn, we usually find ourselves seeking things that help us learn.

No matter the season you find yourself in, your capacity to lead is only amplified when you have made the space to stay filled up. I’ll never forget the first message I gave when I was running on fumes. I’m confident that Jesus can use anything to draw people to Him, but I wasn’t much of a vessel that night. I’ve had moments that were close to the same thing, but I refuse to pour out without getting filled up anymore. There really isn’t another way to do effective ministry. Stay filled up, friends.

Geoff Cocanower is a husband, a son, and the Associate Pastor of Student Ministries at Hope Missionary Church in Bluffton, IN where he leads the team of adults who minister to high school students as well as young adults. In addition to contributing to the DYM blog, Geoff co-hosts a podcast focused on the issues, questions, and blessings of leaders who aren’t in the driver seat of the organization called “The Backseat Leadership Podcast.” (Coming February 2020!) Interesting fact about Geoff is that he is a high school football and volleyball referee in his spare time and is a legacy member and loves all things DYM.