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Recharge Your Spirit

Elaine Friedrich Hall

A Balanced Life

There's only one thing you can spend and never get back -- time. So how are you spending your time? To ensure that you're spending it well, follow these tips.

Time for yourself -- Taking time for yourself is one of the best things you can do for your ministry. When you're refreshed, you'll get more done and enjoy the journey more. Take a bubble bath, play a round of golf, or sit on a porch swing and curl up with a good book.

Time for family -- Take vacations where you relax and spend time with your family (that means leaving the briefcase and laptop at home). When time permits, take a mini-vacation; a quick getaway can boost you when you're feeling weary. Having a fun trip to look forward to helps make crunch times more bearable.

Time for ministry -- Map out your day so you intentionally have a more balanced life. A friend of mine in ministry divides his days into three sections: morning, afternoon, and evening. He only does ministry during two of those three time frames. It helps him be more balanced personally, and he's a better role model for his church members.

Time for God -- I love having my quiet time in the same place each day, but there are times when I need a little more "innergizing." A change of scenery to be with the Lord does that for me. Every now and then, find a spot to escape from the ordinary. When I lived in Kentucky, I would occasionally drive to Natural Bridge State Park, climb to the bridge, and sit there to journal, pray, and read for hours. I'd pack a lunch and soak up God's glorious creation. By the end of the day, I felt refreshed and renewed for ministry.

Reminder Refreshers

Quick visual and written reminders can help you remember why you said yes to children's ministry. Try these ideas.

Momento reminders -- To be refreshed and reminded daily of the difference you make, fill a folder or memory book with things you've received, such as cards, notes, letters, children's drawings, and whatever else you choose. This is a great tool to pull out when you've had a hard day or week. Keep it handy for those weeks you know are going to be especially tough. These are tangible reminders of how your ministry impacts the lives of others.

Visual reminders -- On a small bulletin board in your office, put photographs of people whose lives you've touched, such as that friend who lacked confidence to teach, but you had faith in her abilities. Today, she's not only teaching Sunday school but also mentoring new volunteers. What about the sixth-grade girl who was afraid to audition for choir and you helped her realize her gifts? This summer she's touring with a choir who does outreach. Maybe you've influenced someone to become a children's minister. These are visual reminders of the difference you're making in people's lives.

Journal reminders -- As you remember the reasons you went into children's ministry, jot them in a journal. As you find pictures in magazines, or real photographs or illustrations that depict your reasons, cut them out and add them to your journal.

One of the reasons I went into ministry is to empower others for ministry. Another way to say that is I want to teach others to fish. I found a great picture in a missions magazine of a man fishing. I pasted it to poster board, and this became a visual prayer for God to use my life effectively in his service. I keep this visual prayer in my night stand to look at it each night as I go to bed and each morning when I get up. It reminds me of God's call and purpose for my life.

God has called us into his service to make a difference in the lives of children and their families. Take time to be innergized so you can faithfully continue the work God has called you to do.

Come Away

Another way I love to recharge my spirit is to find a retreat center and get away for a day or two. Taking only my Bible, a hymnal, a prayer book, and a lot of empty pages in a journal, I spend time sleeping, reading, praying, and receiving from God. This is a great time to personally recast the vision for my ministry.

I know you're busy, and sometimes you just can't get away for a few days. So, instead, use this hour-long retreat plan to allow God to place a renewed fire in you to carry out your ministry. Refocus and spend time with your Savior. All you need is a Bible, a journal, and something to write with. Find a quiet place. Maybe it's the sanctuary of your church or just the quiet experienced by closing your office door.

• • •

"This world is to be my home, as much as it is not to be the place that sets the agenda for my life. It is the place that sustains me, but that also needs to be transformed by the grace of God. Thus, while participating in all of life, I need to draw aside to find a place of intimacy with the God who loves and sustains me. And from this reoccurring center-point I can be personally enriched so that I can continue to wash the feet of the world." -- Charles Ringma in Dare to Journey With Henry Nouwen

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