How to have a successful life-ministry balance

Arriving before everyone else to set up chairs.

Standing at the door making people feel welcome.

Cleaning up the cups, sugar packets and stir sticks from coffee time.

Singing Bible songs with the kids.

Rehearsing with the worship team on a weeknight.

Praying with the ministry team.

The list could go on. There’s always a lot to do in church. So many meaningful ways we can contribute, see people’s lives changed, and welcome God’s Kingdom on Earth.

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We have other demands in our lives too. Work, family and home life all require time and energy. It can be a lot to juggle! We’ve all heard about the importance of finding a work-life balance: about the serious health implications of burnout in our productivity-driven world.

But what about when you add ministry to the mix? Is there a way to successfully balance it all? Here are seven top tips to help you balance life and ministry.

1. Know your capacity

“Different people in different seasons have different capacities. It’s easy to assume that other people have the same capacity,” says Benjamin Jackson.

He works as the executive director at Catch The Fire Toronto, leads worship, and became a dad for the third time this summer. “All of my leader’s children have left home. The demands of my home life are far more demanding than someone whose kids have left home.”

It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to achieve as much as someone else, especially when you look up to them. But it’s important to honour the way God made you, understanding your own needs for work, rest, and fun.

2. Ask yourself: “Is this important for me to do right now?”

Invite God in on the conversation. A ministry opportunity might sound exciting, but should you add it to what you’re doing without taking something else out? Even if it’s something God has put on your heart, does that mean you should devote your time to it in this season?

Shaloma Webb serves on the worship team at Catch The Fire Toronto. Earlier this year, she was diagnosed with chronic fatigue. She explains part of the problem, “I was investing way more of my energy in things and people that I didn’t need to.”

Remember, saying no to a ministry opportunity isn’t the same as saying no to God.

3. Decide on your priorities, and keep reviewing your decisions by them

Sit back and look at your life. What’s most important to you? Does that get most of your time and attention?

Benjamin Jackson asks some simple questions when a new opportunity comes up: “I ask myself, how will I feel in 15 years, when my four-year-old leaves home, about the decisions I’ve made? Invariably I choose my family. It often flies in the face of pride and ambition.”

Knowing what’s most important to you in the long term makes it easier to confidently say yes or no when you’re asked to get involved.

4. Let God be in control

“You’re not irreplaceable”. Pretty brutal advice, right? My boss once told me this just before I went on holiday. I was fretting about the important things I was leaving behind at work, but surprise surprise, everything worked out just fine while I was away. I also had a much happier vacation knowing I didn’t need to worry.

The same goes for ministry. We do it because we love it and because we’ve felt God’s calling. Sometimes, though, it’s easy to get into thinking that if we’re not there, everything might fall apart.

“I know God has big things for me, our church, and our movement. But He doesn’t need me to go beyond my capacity or overextend myself to do what He needs to do,” says Benjamin Jackson.

Don’t forget that God is in control of your church, and He can handle your responsibilities far better than you can.

5. Learn to rest

When you’re used to serving most Sundays, it can be hard to make the switch to receive. “I used to feel a lot of expectation on me as a worship leader to be always on and in leader mode,” says Shaloma “I used to constantly want to give, give, give and serve, serve, serve… [I had to learn that] it’s ok to receive.”

If you’re feeling that kind of pressure and expectation, perhaps it’s a good time to pursue rest and receiving from the Father.

I took a step back from church activities when my son was born. At first, it felt weird going to church and not serving but doing less actually helped me engage with what God was doing in the service and my church family in a different way. I actually love my church far more now because of it.

6. Love yourself

Self-care isn’t just a buzz phrase, it’s a vital part of our faith walk.

Jesus told us to love God, love yourself, and love others. Taking time out to rest, have fun, and do life-bringing activities is also really important for your health.

“I’m honouring God by taking care of myself. People think that’s selfish, but it’s not,” says Shaloma.

7. Look outside the box

If you’re struggling to juggle life and ministry, perhaps God has an out-of-the-box solution for you.

Keiron and Laura Densham are pastoring a brand-new church plant in Manchester, England. On top of that, Keiron works full time as a child and youth worker, which can be demanding and emotionally draining. They also have four kids.

Family and ministry are big priorities for the Denshams, and they decided to get stuck into church planting together. “We’re learning to do ministry and family in an integrated way,” says Kieron.

There have been complications along the way, but the Denshams know it’s worth it. Laura says, “It’s all trial and error at the moment. We’ve said to the kids from the get-go: it’s your church plant too, and they hold us to it. They ask to come to meetings. We want them to experience ministry and love it like we do.”

8. Go for it!

Let me encourage you today. Go after what God has called you to do. Go for it with fire, passion and enthusiasm. Give it all you have. But not more than that. Because all you have isn’t necessarily every single bit of your time or all of your energy. We all still need energy in reserve to exercise, to do the groceries, and most importantly, to spend time with the ones we love.

Written By Alice Clarke

Anita Wing Lee