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Secrets Pastors Use for a Good Ministry/Life Balance

Ever feel like you’re running a crazy race, trying to get everything done? It can be hard to juggle ministry, family, taking care of your home, seeing friends, and all of the rest of the tasks on your to-do list. Without any margin or balance, you’re on a fast path to burn out.

Before you burn out, stop. Take time today to evaluate your current level of balance (even if there’s hardly any balance at all) and use these secrets to improve your ministry-life balance. Your family will thank you, your ministry team will thank you, your church will thank you, and you’ll thank yourself.

#1

Plan Your Rest

If you don’t intentionally plan times of rest into your calendar, it’s easy to get busy and forget to slow down. In order to maintain a healthy ministry-life balance, it’s important to plan when you’ll rest.

Each week, schedule at least one day away from work and ministry. Use that day to refresh, recharge, and renew in God’s presence. However that looks for you – whether it’s gardening, going for a hike, watching a movie, spending time with family (more on this later), or something else for you – schedule at least one day to step away from your responsibilities. This is a great way to practically demonstrate trust that God is in control, and He’s able to manage without you working for a day.

Many pastors and ministry leaders also benefit from longer times of sabbatical. Schedule weekends, weeks, or even a month to step away from ministry. Sabbaticals help you refocus on your mission, reconnect with your purpose, and rediscover your worth outside of ministry. When you return to ministry, you’ll find yourself renewed and ready to approach your work with new passion and life.

However rest looks for you, schedule it into your calendar. If it’s not on the calendar, it likely won’t happen. Also, make a commitment not to frequently work all day – morning to evening. When your working hours are over for the day, set aside your work (and your phone, if you have people contacting you about work) and unplug from your responsibilities. This will help you maintain balance and keep life in perspective.

#2

Practice Spiritual Disciplines

In addition to Sabbath rest, schedule other spiritual disciplines into your calendar. Plan times to pray, worship (outside of worship services that you preach/lead and help produce), study Scripture (outside of sermon preparation), fast, and practice other disciplines.

Spiritual disciplines will help you connect with God and root your purpose in something greater than your ministry impact. This will help you maintain ministry-life balance as you see yourself and your identity as more than just your ministry role. Your ministry will also be more vibrant and full of life if it stems from your deep relationship with the Lord, rather than if you only approach the Lord to prepare for Sunday mornings.

#3

Use Sermon Calendars

Sermon calendars will help you lower your preparation stress, eliminate last minute sermon writing, and help you incorporate guest speakers into your preaching rotation – all helping you maintain a healthy-ministry life balance.  With a sermon calendar in place, you’ll have a roadmap of where your church is going for the year. That roadmap will allow you to schedule your personal calendar more effectively. If you know you’ll be covering a harder topic one week, you can schedule fewer other meetings and tasks that week to give yourself time to prepare. If you know that a guest speaker is on the calendar, you can give them their topic in advance and take a week off for complete rest and vacation.  Additionally, if you start with a pre-written sermon calendar, you’ll have one more thing marked off your to-do list. Sermon calendars will decrease your time spent planning – freeing your schedule for more effective sermon preparation, evenings with your family and friends, and weekends away for Sabbath rest.

#4

Time With Family

To continue the last point – be sure to schedule intentional time with your family. If you don’t have a spouse and children, schedule time with your parents, siblings, or friends who feel like family. Schedule these connection points into your weekly calendar, or it’s likely they won’t happen. Hold yourself to the commitment and prioritize these times above ministry responsibilities. You can’t serve and lead your church well if you’re not loving and leading your family well.

Prioritizing family and relationships sets an example for your ministry team as well. If you’re willing to say “I can’t add another commitment on that night, I’ll be at my son’s soccer game,” you give your team permission to prioritize and serve their families. Demonstrating this healthy balance and priorities actually serves your team better than if you say yes to every ministry demand at the cost of time with your family.

#5

Utilize Done-For-You Resources

By using done-for-you sermon preparation resources and graphics packages, you’ll have more time to balance your ministry and life schedule. When you’re preparing a sermon, utilize a done-for-you illustration library. When you (or your team) are preparing announcements, use pre-created announcement resources. Incorporate done-for-you videos into your order of service, and save time in sermon preparation by using sermon outlines and ideas. Basically, use done-for-you resources as much as possible to save and maximize your time and effort. 

For example, if you’d like to preach to your congregation about the Ten Commandments, begin with done-for-you sermon research and outlines. Use a resource like Ten Words: A Study Through the Ten Commandments. Send the small group outlines to your group leaders to save them time, utilize illustrations and talking points, send your worship or creative director links to bumper videos and other creative resources, and send your social media manager pre-created graphics. Or, if you’re the one leading and handling all of those areas, celebrate that most of the work is already done for you.

Using Ministry Pass done-for-you resources as a launching pad will cut down on your preparation time, giving you more time for the rest of your life. You’ll have more time for hobbies, time with family and friends, and rest. Don’t miss out on this great way to improve your ministry-life balance.

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