Post by Derry Prenkert
I hate running. I can’t count the amount of time I’ve decided I need to get into shape, so I go on a short run only to remember that I HATE running. But this post is not about running as an exercise routine. This is about the pace of ministry, and more specifically student ministry.
A youth pastor once told me, “finding daily balance in youth ministry is a pipe dream.” I was deeply bothered and thought he should be fired from his position. Years later, I find myself in full agreement with this seasoned veteran who sought to give me some advice.
Don’t get me wrong. I think finding a life balance in the student ministry world is entirely possible, but it can only be discovered over longer periods of time. There’s a huge desire to find a nice jogging pace when it comes to handling schedules, church/home life, student crises, programs, logistics, trips, parent meetings, staff meetings, personal time with god, message prep, hanging with friends, and about 20 other things before you get some sleep. When we try it, jogging just doesn’t happen . Instead, I think there are 3 paces or rhythms you will find/ or need to find over time to create “balance.”
Sprint: These are the moments that can bring you to life in ministry. A missions trip, fall kickoff season, major programming days (Wednesdays or Sundays in my case), or Summer Camp would fit in this category. There are long hours, great energy and often fantastic spiritual fruit.
Walk: These are times where the pace slows way down. The crises are less, the events are not pressing in, and/or programming is scaled back. It isn’t “going through the motions,” but there is a slower feel. Some may say these times never exist in ministry. That may be true, but these times NEED to happen. If they are not, the calendar needs to be cleaned up.
Rest: These are the break times. Whether days off or vacation time, these are the moments where there is a need to just STOP and unplug from it all. These times, for me, are absolutely essential for three reasons.
- To rest my body. I tend to be driven, focused and ready for the next challenge. My body can jump way ahead of my soul which eventually leads to burnout.
- To prioritize family. I want there to be times when my family has ALL of me. No chance to get called away for anything church-related.
- To appreciate what I have in ministry. Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.
If I run and walk without resting, I will crash at some point.
If I run and rest without walking, I will grow to resent ministry.
If I walk and rest without running, I’m just lazy.
May those in ministry know that daily balance is a pipe dream, yet balance can be found over time.