4 Steps to Prevent Youth Ministry Burnout
Youth ministry can easily become a 24/7 operation. Office hours are filled with planning and organizing. Then there are the meetings, and if you throw in being “on call” if a parent or teen needs you, life can get crazy quickly. But, that’s not healthy.
A healthy youth ministry has a healthy youth minister. A healthy youth minister is someone who is rested, refreshed and ready to go. To find that rest, peace of mind and build margin, you need to learn how to turn it off by:
1. Planning a True Vacation
Don’t confuse a vacation with a fun trip. While a trip to Disney World can be energizing and memorable, it won’t necessarily refuel you for a year of ministry. Find an opportunity where you can:
- Disconnect from the world.
- Physically and spiritually rest.
- Reflect on the season you just experienced.
Try to use the time to focus on the present and to get ready for the season ahead. The more you feel rested the more you’ll be prepared to move forward.
2. Develop an Outlet
How do you unwind after a long day? We all have something, and what that something is matters. While there is nothing wrong with a little Netflix or a bowl of your favorite ice cream, look for things that promote productivity and rest.
Whatever you do to unwind, make sure it allows you to process the day or season you are in. It should be a habit that builds you up and refuels you. You know you’ve found the right outlet when you feel better after you’ve engaged in it than you did before.
3. Enjoy a Sabbath
It’s easy to get stuck in the mentality of the more I work the more I will achieve. The reality is that you become less productive the more tired you feel. To find rest you need to:
- Make sure you are going home at a decent time.
- Getting enough sleep at night.
- Taking a full day as your Sabbath.
While Sundays might be difficult, make sure that each week you are taking one day to focus on refueling and rejuvenating yourself. You might feel like you have too much going on, but the rest will be worth it.
4. Communicate Your Boundaries
If you are constantly on, it’s going to be extremely difficult to communicate to others when you are off. Set up boundaries when you don’t want to be disturbed. For me it’s:
- Dinnertime with the family.
- Days off.
- After 9 p.m. during the week.
- When I’m away on vacation.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t email, text, ping or call me. I just might not respond. There are certain people who can cross those boundaries and there are times when I will make exceptions. But, without the boundaries people might take advantage.
Knowing when and how to turn it off is essential to your health as a leader. People will know how to interact with you and you’ll have the margin to take on the other challenges youth ministry can bring.