I’m sure you may feel like you have the gas pedal down all the time. Most ministry leaders I know work hard and juggle many details.
But the truth is, when you begin to think about it, there’s more ebb and flow than meets the eye.
There are seasons when you are practically burning the candle at both ends and others when you have breathing room. And the timing for these seasons is important.
Understanding these seasons is an important part of taking care of your energy, health, home life, and heart. There’s a verse in Romans 12:11 that says, “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord.”
I used to think this meant always be going strong, never stop, keep all balls in the air and do this forever! Then one day, several years back, I read it in a different light. I believe the Holy Spirit taught me that, in order to keep our zeal and spiritual fervor, we must make sure we are taking time to have a Sabbath, downtimes and opportunities to recharge.
There are times to push hard and times to coast.
Here are some ideas I’m thinking about related to this:
Big Church Seasons
Gearing up for Christmas, Easter, and the start of school are all some pretty intense workloads for worship leaders and musicians in the church. The reward is worth it – the celebrations are often awesome and motivating. But after the gas pedal has been down for several weeks, you have to coast a while. Taking time off after these seasons is a great thing to do. Our church closes the office between Christmas and the New Year – that’s one great way to let things coast a bit. But even if you can’t do that, you can mentally coast for a couple of weeks. Choose some simpler set lists, streamline the music team, and don’t feel bad making things easier on yourself and your team.
Recruiting And Reorganizing
In some ways, we’re always recruiting and organizing but most often there is a point in the year – often in the fall or mid-January – when we make a push to see who’s with us. We figure out who may want to be a part of our ministry. We invite people to meetings, ask our team members to re-up their commitment and so on. As a result, we are also working hard during these times on details and planning. It’s not a bad idea to have a particular season for this so you can plan to hit the gas pedal and go hard for a couple of weeks.
The Days After A Big Weekend
There are some weekends that just stand out as more work than others. Maybe you have a special event on Saturday or a churchwide outreach on Sunday afternoon. There is nothing wrong with hitting the gas pedal hard toward the end of the week, getting the set up done, getting the final touches in place, then taking time off on Monday, even if that’s not your regular day off. This past weekend was an example of that for me. Thursday and Friday were full days of set up and preparation. Saturday was a full, all day conference for ministry leaders. Then I really didn’t reset, but left for a trip to sing on Sunday morning, all while helping to keep lots of details straight for our church worship team (it’s often harder to plan to leave than to just be there!), and then got home later on Sunday. Monday, though I usually go into office, was a day to catch my breath. I mowed the yard, took my daughters places, read and hung around the house. I’m quite motivated by events like the weekend, so at times, my natural thought is to get to the office and start following up the day after! I had to tell myself it could wait and I’m glad I coasted for the day.
Sometimes the big projects are unrelated to your ministry. Maybe it’s something new in the church office or a series of meetings at church for a new building or campaign. After those seasons, you may notice you’ve been gone a lot and there may be a need to coast for a bit. Sometimes, when I realize this, I take one more day to hit the gas pedal and get lots of details hammered out for the following two weeks, then take a bit of a mental break.
Your Family And Your Team
You may be the type of person who considers yourself a mover and a shaker. You may like running 100 miles an hour! If so, one motivator for hitting coast now and then could be for those around you. Think about your family and your ministry leaders. They may welcome some coasting and that might be enough motivation for you to slow down for a day or a week or whatever it is.
I threw this in as a reminder to full-time ministry leaders – invest your vacations! Don’t waste them. Take them! And use them to coast with your friends or family. Sometimes vacations might even wear you out, but it’s a different kind of energy!
Hit The Gas Pedal For Someone Else
There’s an entirely different idea here and it falls under the realm of empowering others to lead and serve. There is a chance you are the roadblock or bottleneck to others around you feeling like they can take the ball and run with it. Let it be known to your leaders that they have the green light! Take the project and go! You are behind them and willing to support them. But just because you may need a week to coast doesn’t mean everyone does at that time. This is how the church grows – everyone using their gifts and passion to make it happen. If it all hinges on you, you will always feel overwhelmed. Build your team and turn them loose!
Don’t fall into maintenance mode in your ministry. The goal is not to get to a point when you’re not doing the work. The goal is to equip the saints, lead the church, use your gifts! But balance it out so you can stay in your role for the long haul. Let God’s voice lead your ministry life – and don’t make decisions based on becoming overwhelmed. There are ways to balance it — and if you’ve been hitting the gas pedal too long, you may just need to coast for a bit. On the flip side, if you’ve been coasting for a while, it may be time to hit the gas pedal, change some things up, get some new momentum going and have some fun!