A temptation in ministry is to go without stopping, give without receiving and work without ceasing.
Although this usually comes from a good heart, it does not reflect Jesus’ ministry while on earth. When Jesus fed the 5,000 He gave more than He had to offer, but, immediately afterward He sent his disciples away so He could be alone with His Father (Matthew 14). If we want to model our ministry after Jesus, we must recognize the need to take care of our own souls. Check out these simple ways to rest and be rejuvenated in the midst of giving it your all.
(verb – “to withdraw to a quiet or secluded place”)
Honor the Sabbath. Put down your cell phone, your planner and your sermon notes and spend time alone with Jesus. Take a day off work or just don’t plan contact work but instead fill your day with prayer and reading. Find a place of solitude, physically and spiritually, where you do not have to pour out but can be filled up by our Father. It requires humility to confess that ministry and life goes on without us and to admit that we cannot do a thing without being filled up by Jesus first.
(noun – “a thing that causes someone to remember something”)
As middle year ministers our church, friends, work and volunteering are all under the same roof. We must be intentional to have something outside of that roof that can serve as a reminder that the world does not revolve around our ministry. No matter how good or bad it’s going, how tired or energized we are, there is a whole world out there filled with God’s sovereignty. Have a friend, hobby or goal that reminds you that your ministry is but a blip on the radar.
(noun – “the state of being connected”
We need that friend to vent to. We need that friend who understands. We need that volunteer who has our back and that student that is easier to hang out with. We cannot focus all of our time on the struggling student or high-maintenance volunteer without our tank running out. Ask God to give you relationships inside and outside of the church that fill you up and encourage you.
In the past year I have put these three concepts into practice and the time I spend with students and volunteers has rapidly increased in quality. Trust me when I say that not only is it worth it to care for yourself, but also you deserve it. Thank you for what you do for middle year students. And thank you for committing to take care of yourself.
Caroline Smallwood is the Middle School Girls’ Director at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth, Texas. At a young age she knew she was called to work with middle year girls and has been doing so in a full-time role for four years. She has her Masters in Human Relations and has a passion for helping hurting kids.