Post by Allison Williams
January is one of my favorite times times of the year: fresh calendar, new semester, well thought out goals. I have a ‘bring it on’ type attitude about everything except the weather (as I type, it’s one degree outside here in the midwest). But what truly baffles me is by the beginning of February, my good intentions are often out the window. And by March, I’m daydreaming about professionally waitressing at Chili’s. (Does my church even understand how hard it is to juggle regular services, a spring break trip, and get summer details finalized?!) Isn’t it insane how quickly our demeanor can change in ministry.
Even sitting at the optimistic end of the calendar, I’m exhausted just thinking about the inevitable crash that is going to hit me in a few months.
So this year I am doing something drastic: I didn’t set any ministry goals for 2018. Some of you are thinking I’m the worst minister in the world right now. I’m usually the queen of lists and measurable outcomes, but I need a break from the stress that comes with goals. Much like with weight loss, I don’t want to force my ministry onto a diet with goals; instead my program needs a full on lifestyle change.
I’m switching to a theme. In 2018, my ministry theme is going to be: what can I give away? I’m breaking that into two categories:
- What stuff can I give away?
I’m a happier, less-stressed person when I have a clean habitat in my home and car. I’m guessing that the same holds true in our churches. Our building is spotless, but there are some crammed storage areas that are scary. What’s in storage or on the shelf that I’m not going to use this year that would be a blessing to another minister or congregation? Could I give a local para-church organization the instructions and supplies for a great evening of programming that was a win for us five year ago but doesn’t fit our style now? I bet that 100 person church down the road with no youth minister would love that video curriculum I impulse bough two years ago and never used! Don’t hoard your resources. Keep what you need and give where you can! This will not only bless others but it will get the visual clutter out of your world and allow you to focus.
[Note: ALWAYS ASK if a person/church/organization is interested in what you have. We all have things that we wish we had not been “blessed” with.]
- What roles can I give away?
When I reflect back on my hardest seasons of ministry, there is one common thread: there was simply too much on my plate. At times, we control and micromanage ourselves to an overwhelming workload. Other times, our congregations go through shifts and we have to carry extra loads to get through a season. And sometimes, we are just overwhelmed because there are not enough volunteers (or we have failed to properly recruit in advance).
In 2018, I am going to try to give away as many roles and jobs as I can. A mentor once told me, “Try to only do what only you can do.”
In 2018, I am asking myself:
- What am I doing that is non-critical for me? [ex. I don’t need to come up with the winter retreat dinner menu.]
- Where am I weak that someone else is strong? [ex. I’m not the gal that you want setting up the tech for midweek.]
- What are simple ways that we could be upping our game? [ex. It would be cool if we started sending students birthday cards.]
Giving roles away will bless people with opportunities to serve, up the investment of seasoned volunteers, encourage student leaders, and increase the overall ownership of our ministry. As a byproduct, this should also lower my stress-level and allow me to be laser focused on vision and helping hurting students and their families.
What can you give away in 2018?
Allison has been in full-time ministry for 13 years. She loves the pastoral care aspect of ministry and seeks out ways to shepherd and encourage students and youth workers. Her current ministry is crib-to-college. In her free time, Allison loves reading, taking barre classes, and cooking. Connect with her on twitter: @allisoneliza