Balancing a family and professional ministry is difficult. As a youth minister, you are constantly missing out on family gatherings, bedtime and pivotal moments. The question that haunts your mind is, “Is this worth it?”
Over time you might get accustomed to the sacrifice, but will your family? It’s a scary question but one that needs to be addressed. While there are a variety of sacrifices, there are three that I’ve learned cannot be over-communicated:
1. People will know your personal business.
Does your family know how much you share? As a speaker, I’m constantly talking about my parents, wife, siblings and kids. I’m relaying a lot of personal information and that can form a lot of one-sided relationships.
While I would ask permission to share stories, I didn’t realize the impact it would have on loved ones. As a public figure you are giving teenagers, parents and volunteers insider information which can seem like an invasion of privacy to loved ones.
Create guidelines on what is public and what should remain private. Make sure you are connecting your family with the people you are speaking to. While they cannot meet everyone, the more they feel comfortable with your audience, the more accepting they will be of you sharing personal info.
2. Your schedule won't be normal.
I have yet to meet a youth minister who works Monday–Friday, 9 to 5 p.m. You will work evenings and weekends. You can build a regular schedule, but it has to be adaptable.
Planning ahead and communicating as much as possible are essential. Make sure you evaluate each out-of-the-ordinary meeting to determine whether it’s worth the sacrifice.
Give your family the "why" behind the "what" so they have context for what you are doing. If you struggle to explain why a meeting, retreat or event is important, then you might need to revisit your role. Bottom line, communicate, communicate and communicate.
3. Work will impact worship.
I’m a firm believer that you need to worship at the church that employs you. It will allow you to recruit more volunteers, connect with families and strengthen the relationship you have with your coworkers. But, it does come with a cost.
The first way it impacts you is the risk of being interrupted while your family worships. Cut down on the interruptions by asking people to fill in for you while your family worships. Attend times where you are less needed.
The second way work impacts your worship is in regards to what you bring home. Any grievances or hardships you bring home about coworkers (especially your pastor
) will impact the way your family worships.
Allow your family to call you out if you bring home too much negativity. Encourage friends to help you guard this valuable time.
It takes work to balance family and ministry. It’s not a level that you reach and then go into cruise control. Work at it, communicate with loved ones and coworkers. Find support so that you can continue to enjoy what you do and allow your family to embrace the blessings that come with working in a church.