I officially became a RPW on February 25, 2006. We definitely learned a lot in our first year in terms of time management and setting boundaries–mostly from the things we did wrong.
Honestly, I think it came from a place of excitement and energy. “We want to get to know the youth! We want to have students over! Our college students are missing out! We should join a small group!” None of those things is inherently negative. But ultimately, while our hearts were in the right place, we were overcommitted right from the beginning.
Our first fall in ministry, we ended up being involved in church programs four nights out of the week–Sunday and Wednesday night Youth Programs, Open House for Students on Tuesdays, and a New College Ministry on Thursdays. And we loved each of the programs and genuinely enjoyed leading them.
Insert life lesson from a youth ministry pro: we attended the National Youth Workers Convention our first year in ministry and attended a Q & A with Doug Fields and his wife. The Field’s have been in ministry for almost 30 years and have an incredible amount of wisdom for pastors and families in ministry. Doug specifically shared about the busy seasons in ministry where he was committed to a big project like a building or a book–but only for a season. These seasons were anywhere from 3 to 18 months. And their family committed to the season together.
The thing about seasons is that they have an end date.
We’ve all had busy seasons. Holidays. Grad school. Thesis writing. RA training. Summer youth trips with less than a week in between. Or times of family stress or unexpected life change.
At the same time, I think that Josh and I soon realized after a full schedule that even though we loved what we were doing, it was too much. We set a standard from the beginning that was not sustainable. Sure. It was fun. We built great relationships with students that we have even now. But we had to let some things go eventually and delegate to other awesome, capable leaders because we were simply trying to do too much.
We put an end to four nights a week and tried to be more intentional about our time in our second year. We have to check ourselves even now when we realize our weeks are filling up and we have no “sacred nights” at home. Some weeks are just busy, but when we fill fill fill up our schedules all for the sake of ministry, we end up burning ourselves out and it just becomes another appointment on the ical that hasn’t had an opening in months.
Is it our pride that gets in the way because we want to do it all ourselves?
Our inability to say no?
The myth that if it’s all ministry then it must be all well and good?
People pleasing showing its ugly face? (DING DING DING! This is so me!)
It could be one or all of those things–or something else that I am not mentioning that only you can identify.
How do you balance a full schedule in ministry? How many nights a week is too much for you? If you have kids, how did that change how you organized your schedule?