Pastor, When to Put Your Family First
Does your family come first? Take a moment and think about it. I’m willing to bet there have been times when you’ve had to choose work over them. I’m sure there have been those moments where you unintentionally took them for granted.
If that’s happened to you, join the club. It happens, and sometimes it’s unavoidable. However, if you want to stay in ministry for the long haul, you have to learn how to navigate family and work. A few lessons I’ve learned to help me do this are to:
1. Turn Off Work and the World
Don’t buy the lie that as a youth minister you need to be available 24/7. To keep up with the demand from teens, parents and even your pastor can grow overbearing. To avoid being 24/7:
- Set up a time when email is turned off and the phone gets put away.
- Build up a team of volunteers that can help you handle the workload.
- Communicate your office hours and clarify that everything else is in case of an emergency.
Create a culture where people know how and when to communicate to you. The more they know your boundaries the more they will respect them.
2. Clearly Communicate the Calendar
Ministry isn’t a 9 to 5 job. And, even if you have regular work hours there will be events and meetings that come up. To prepare for these occasions make sure you have a working calendar with everyone’s work, school and activities on it.
Set a time to meet with your family to discuss what’s coming up and how you are going to work around it. Having a calendar not only increases communication, but it creates accountability.
A calendar will be able to point out when you are working too much. It will help you prioritize family and work obligations. It’s an opportunity to touch base so that you know if you are working more than you should.
3. Plan Intentional Worship Time Together
Your family’s faith journey is important and cannot be overlooked. To make it a priority you need to make sure you are intentional about when you:
- Pray together.
- Attend Mass or Worship as a family.
- Discuss one another’s faith journey.
Make prayer a priority in your family so that you are prepared to handle any season life throws at you. If your home life isn’t healthy, it’s going to make ministry that much harder.
4. Know When It’s Time to Step Away
You can easily get pulled into the trenches of youth ministry so that you can start to lose site of what’s most important. When that happens it’s important to step away. To be proactive make sure you:
- Schedule a real family vacation (10 days at least).
- Take a family day to just be home.
- Shut it down on days off.
Family is important and while you can always get a new ministry gig, replacing your family is not that easy. There will be times when you need to step away even if it means permanently. If that’s you be sure to:
- Talk with your spouse first.
- Reach out to a veteran youth worker.
- Spend plenty of time in prayer.
If you make family a priority you will be able to do ministry for the long haul. They will be there to cheer you on and pick you up. They will be a reminder that God loves you no matter how successful you are in church ministry.