I've started running. It's in preparation for our 5KIN in November. I'm also doing it because I'm getting severely physically inactive. I'm a week and a half into training, and actually enjoying it. But that's not the point of this post.
This is about the pace of ministry, and more specifically student ministries. 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 fully agreeing 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 ministries world is entirely possible, but it can only be discovered over longer periods of time. Balance can best be found over a year. 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. "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's 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 around. Some may say these times never exist in ministry. That may be true, but these times NEED to happen. If they are not, the calender needs to be cleaned up.
Rest: These are the break times. 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 two reasons.
- To appreciate what I have in ministry. Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.
- 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.
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.