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
• 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.
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
• 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.
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
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