Those who have been called to serve God through church ministry often find that their ministry extends beyond the four walls of the church. Ministry is, for many, a way of life. While living your ministry speaks to your dedication to answering God’s call, it can also create challenges when it comes to setting boundaries for life in ministry
If you’ve ever felt as though you’ve not done enough for your congregation, even when you’re doing all that you can, you are not alone. Many pastors and church leaders experience a sense of guilt, wishing there was more they could do to be of service. Those feelings can lead to an unhealthy imbalance between life and ministry, causing personal wellness and other vital relationships between spouses and family members to suffer.
Striking a balance between caring for yourself, nurturing your relationships, and tending to your congregation is important to finding joy and success in life both inside and outside of the church.
If God has called you to a life of service, it can feel counterintuitive to prioritize self-care. However, you cannot pour from an empty cup. To be effective in your ministry, you have to find sources of and time for replenishment. The term “self-care” may evoke visions of pampering and self-indulgence, but that is just one narrow version of self-care. Self-care can be a powerful practice for restoring your mind, body, and spirit. Self-care can look like this:
- practicing gratitude
- setting aside time for prayer
- taking days off from work entirely
- observing Sabbath rest
Furthermore, seeking guidance and tutelage from mentors or more senior members of your church can be considered self-care. Ultimately, the goal is to make taking care of your own needs, both spiritual and physical, a priority in order to be able to attend to the various needs of others. Self-care is not selfish, and choosing a life of service does not mean that you must choose to neglect your own needs.
Allow For Accountability
It can often be difficult to receive constructive feedback, and that applies doubly when we are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or stretched too thin. However, there is also tremendous value in allowing yourself to be held accountable by those you hold dear. Many times, our partners, families, and close friends recognize when we’re pouring too much of ourselves into work long before we do. Give those who are close to you permission to point it out when you are starting to develop an imbalance between your personal life and your ministry. If you are open to hearing it, you can quickly course-correct it before you experience burnout or issues in important relationships.
Learn to Delegate
Just because you’ve been called to lead a life of service doesn’t mean that you have to serve everyone and do everything all by yourself. If you have a team within your church, they are likely ready, willing, and able to take on responsibility. They’re as excited to do God’s work as you are. Delegating according to the different God-given gifts and abilities on your team is a great way not only to lessen your personal load but to increase the fruitfulness of your church’s ministry.
There are additional benefits to delegating aside from reducing your personal workload. Giving others more responsibility helps them grow and develop within the church and their own ministries. Give your team members the information they need to get the job done, and then trust them to complete the task.
Focus on Wellness
In the same way that it’s important for you to take care of your spiritual needs through self-care, it’s also essential that you focus on your physical and mental needs when you’re looking to strike a healthy balance between life and ministry.
Exercise is important, not only from a cardiovascular and fitness standpoint but because it is effective at reducing stress. If your body is strong, you are better prepared to increase your capacity in ministry. Make time to visit the doctor when you need to, and prioritize healthy eating and staying hydrated.
Anyone who has ever tried to balance a busy schedule knows that it is not always easy. When you add ministry work to the mix, it can be even more difficult to find time for everything. However, it is important to remember that physical health is an essential part of maintaining a healthy balance in life. When our bodies are not healthy, it can be difficult to focus on anything else.
For example, if we are not getting enough sleep, we may find it hard to concentrate on our work or our studies. Or if we are not eating properly, we may lack the energy that we need to get through the day. That is why it is so important to take care of our physical health. By making sure that we are getting enough rest and exercise and eating a balanced diet, we can help ensure that we have the strength and energy that we need to effectively balance ministry and life.
It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of meeting with parishioners, leading services, and attending meetings. However, it is important to remember that your own mental health is just as important as the work you do. If you don’t take care of yourself, you could be too tired to effectively help those who rely on you.
It is important to find a balance between your ministry and your personal life. Make sure to take time for yourself every day, even if it’s just a few minutes to relax and recharge. Prioritize your mental health and well-being, and ensure that you can better serve those who depend on you.
Put Family First
When we embark on a life of service, we commit to putting God first in our lives, and oftentimes we make the mistake of placing our ministry directly after. However, family should not be neglected and must always come first. In order to sustain relationships, we must actively seek to nurture them. If you’re married, plan a weekly date night with your spouse, or plan family activities with your kids. Our ministries are important, but our families have to be an equal priority if we’re to find balance between life and ministry. While the work you do for the church is important, your ministry should not be to the detriment of your family.
Listen to the Lord
When God created us, He never intended for us to work around the clock. In fact, the Bible tells us that we must rest and prioritize those days of rest. The Lord wishes for us to take time for ourselves, to enjoy life, to give thanks, and to pray. God does not wish for us to be productive every moment of every day, and one of the best ways to strike balance between life and ministry is to take a sabbath rest and take time to listen to the Lord.
Through scripture, God tells us how important rest is, and by taking care of yourself, and allowing yourself time to recharge and refresh, you are honoring God. After all, you are God’s divine creation, and by loving yourself, by caring for yourself, you are demonstrating your love for the Lord. Burnout diminishes longevity in ministry, and overworking can put important relationships at risk.
When you take the time and make the effort to find a healthy balance between your personal life and your ministry, you are listening to God and loving Him through your actions.