People called to ministry spend a lot of time doing a variety of things that are really important. The weight of ministry can be cumbersome. Burnout rates are high. It’s hard to imagine making more time to do more things. As I talk to friends, mentors, and even those younger than me, I’ve realized that there are three things that a lot of ministry folks don’t take the time to do…and they totally should.
1. Intentionally Meet with Someone You Are Older/Younger Than
Here’s what I don’t mean:
- If you’re a leader, meet with your staff that are younger than you.
- If you’re 25, meet with your boss that’s 40.
That’s just day-to-day workflow. It doesn’t count.
What I am talking about is developing a relationship with someone with whom you do not work who is either 20+ years older or 20+ years younger than you. Plan a monthly lunch appointment or grab some coffee. The times I have done this in the past are among the richest experiences of my ministry, and I’ve never once regretted taking the time to make those meetings happen.
A lot of issues in our churches today could be ironed out with some inter-generational dialogue. These conversations would increase trust and reduce suspicion. A lot of issues in our hearts personally could be combatted by some wisdom and encouragement from people not the same age as us. They would give us perspective.
Speaking of perspective, there’s something else we need to make time for…
Know What’s Really Going on in the World
You may think you know life beyond your congregation because you watch your favorite news channel. Information is not hard to come by, after all. But not all info is created equal. I don’t know about you, but my Facebook-timeline-information-overload often leaves me with high blood pressure, feeling like I haven’t really been told the truth but only had opinion shouted in my face.
Find some reasonable, even-tempered outlets to gain some perspective. Listen to people with whom you disagree. There are a lot of people in your church family that don’t share your politics or perspective, so get in their world a bit.
My all-time favorite source for this kind of information is Charlie Rose, an interview show on PBS late at night. I’m rarely doing something else at 11:30PM, and I have time to tune in 3-4 times per week. I get leadership, politics, the arts, sports, business, and more. The conversations never become heated. They cover multiple sides. The interviewer asks tough questions, not just ones that will create click-bait.
I don’t always agree with what is said, but I leave feeling like I’ve learned something.
Seriously…check it out. Get a grasp on what’s going on in the world in various fields.
Do Something for Yourself
Doing for others is great, but you have to plan to do for yourself. Regularly.
If I don’t get some quiet solo time every week, I feel it. If I don’t have date nights with my wife or time with just her and I, I feel it. If I’m constantly performing ministry tasks and I don’t get to sit down and create content — sermons, lessons, etc., I feel it. I need space.
I do two things to keep myself energized.
- I work on a day when most of the rest of our office does not. This allows me quiet workflow when I can write lessons and sermons and I’m rarely interrupted by urgent tasks. I almost always leave the office feeling good about life on those days.
- I regularly plan time to myself. Daily, I have 30 minutes to an hour each when I walk my dog and think. I do a date with my wife, a boy’s breakfast with my son, and a daddy/daughter date at least once a month each. I also have tried very hard to develop some hobbies. To be honest, I kind of stink at this. But I’m working on it.
I get it. You’re busy. But you need to take time to learn from other people, stay in tune with culture beyond the walls of your church, and spend some time recreating and relaxing. If you don’t take time for these things, you’ll likely burn out sooner or later. You’ll at least struggle to function at your highest level. If you do take time for these things, you’ll be more energized and — ultimately — better at what you do.
But that’s just me.
What about you…what do you regularly make time to do that other ministry folks need to learn from?