Ministry is not a regular 9:00-5:00 type of job. Sometimes it involves early morning breakfast meetings at 6:00 AM to meet with someone before school or work. Other times it involves 4:00 or 6:00 PM baseball, soccer, football, volleyball, track, basketball games or band, choir, musical, play performances.
Then there are the seasonal events like a summer mission trip or camp, weekend camping trip, and/or weekend retreats. Guy’s nights or girl’s nights take up another evening and weekend. Not to mention the actual night your youth program is scheduled, whether Sunday or Wednesday night.
This can make for a hectic life schedule, and one that doesn’t leave you a whole lot of leftover time for yourself or your family.
However, every church closes at some point; there is likely a “day off” listed in your job description somewhere. Don’t neglect this. The word “burnout” has come up too often in recent blog posts and news articles. We in ministry have a dangerous calling, to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a hostile world. Burnout is a dangerous reality in our dangerous calling because our work is never done.
You must personally stay healthy if you are going to be in ministry for any length of time. If you are not physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally healthy, the people around you will suffer for it. However, the opposite is also true: if you are physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally healthy, the people around you will be all the better for it.
Here are five ways you can and must protect your day off:
Shut down your email
One of the quickest ways to lose your day off is to stay logged into your email. Parents, students, co-workers, and others will send you emails on your day off (whether they realize it’s your day off or not). One helpful tool is to even turn on your “Out of the Office” automatic reply, so people know they can expect to wait to hear from you. Your emails won’t go anywhere; you’ll still get them, but you will better set up yourself and your day for rest.
Turn off notifications
This is closely linked with email, but also with social media, phone calls, and texts. You need to set clear boundaries regarding communication for your day off. Turning off notifications, turning your phone on Airplane mode, or setting specific hours of Do Not Disturb time can be a life-giving decision. You won’t be bombarded by texts, emails, phone calls, and questions regarding things that you could have answered during the work week, and can get to when your day off is over.
Cultivate a hobby that fills you up
This is one of the most beneficial things you can do. Whether this is going to the gym, going on a run, woodworking, kayaking, hiking, reading in a hammock, etc., find something that fills you up. I would advise not letting this be something necessarily tech-based—like video games, Netflix binging and the like—because those can actually tire you out in other ways and don’t necessarily provide the filling up that you need. Whatever it is, find something that fills you up and commit to doing it often on your day off!
Don’t apologize for having a day off
There is always more work to be done. I get it. I love to-do lists, checking things off, and being task-oriented. But, we all need a day off. Don’t let a parent, an overworked co-worker, or anyone else make you feel bad for taking a day off. If you are going to be effective in the long-term, you need to protect your day off. Don’t apologize for it and don’t feel guilty over it.
One note on this—your day off may need to be flexible. The schedule of ministry, as said earlier, is not like a regular office job. It waxes and wanes with the seasons. Your day off may need to change from time to time. One week it may be Friday, another it may be Monday, another it may be a Thursday. However, don’t let it become so flexible that you’re never sure when it is and can never make plans because it’s constantly changing.
Understand why you’re doing it
One helpful way to not feel guilty about having a day off is to remember why you have a day off: It is a part of God’s creation prior to the fall and is necessary to live life to the full. When you intentionally take a day off, participate in hobbies that fill you up, and can take time away from work-related conversations and notifications, you will have a greater capacity and longevity in ministry, be able to lead yourself and others more effectively, and will be healthier spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Don’t neglect the power and absolute necessity of a day off!
Questions to consider:
- When is your typical day off?
- What do you do on your day off?
- Do you feel well rested after a day off?
- As your next day off approaches, what can you do to Sabbath and rest well?
Ben Marshall has served as a Youth and Young Adult Pastor in Holland, MI since 2014 and recently became a Campus Pastor in the Fall of 2016. He has a passion for discipling youth and young adults, helping them realize their God-given potential and developing next generation leaders. Ben is married to Connie and they had their first child, Aliya Joy, in October 2016. Ben’s hobbies include blogging, playing guitar, soccer, and football. Follow him on Twitter @BENMARSHALL3 or on his blog at YOUTHPASTORBEN.WORDPRESS.COM.
This post was previously published by YOUTHPASTORBEN.WORDPRESS.COM.