Recently, I had the opportunity to go on a seesaw for the first time in about 18 years. As I was swinging up and down with a friend who happens to be about my size, I realized that teeter-tottering is much more fun as an adult with the cognitive ability to make adjustments and balance more effectively.
My previous experience with the seesaw had been unpleasant memories of spending the majority of the time sitting on the ground waiting for my mom to come rescue my younger brother from dangling helplessly off the top of the teeter-totter or having a particularly ornery boy jump off at the exact moment I reached the top of the tilt. It's a lot more fun to teeter-totter when it's balanced.
In that way, life is a lot like a teeter-totter. Balancing between ministry and your personal life can be a huge challenge, but is critical to the success of your ministry as well as your emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Here are a few ideas for living a more balanced life:
Get input. While I was still a teenager myself, I got some great advice on how to balance mentoring while still growing and being mentored myself. The advice was to keep a 1:5 ratio. Choose a mature woman who is farther along in life and has something to pour into your life to mentor you on a regular face-to-face, one-on-one basis beyond sitting in church and hearing a sermon. At the same time, choose five young women to invest in. As youth leaders, you'll probably have more than five people affected by your ministry on a regular basis, but choose five young women who would benefit from more one-on-one mentorship. Choose girls who have untapped leadership qualities or who have recently become believers and need discipleship. Make sure you maintain the balance of having a mentor while you're pouring into the lives of others.
Learn the art of delegation. It seems that ministry tends to attract control freaks. Remember that you don't have to do everything yourself. You might be feeling a little lonely in your ministry. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Ask your pastor to announce that you need more volunteers and don't be afraid to delegate to your fellow youth workers. After you delegate, stop worrying. Be available, but don't try to reclaim the responsibility you've delegated. A ministry is at its healthiest when it can carry on effectively while missing its leader, it just means you've trained your leaders and students well.
Schedule rest. Youth ministry can be a breeding ground for burnout. The best way to avoid burnout is to rest. Employers offer vacation time for a reason. A well-rested employee will be more productive and ultimately more profitable for an employer. In the same way, your ministry will be much more effective if you're well-rested. Take all of your vacation time. Try to schedule at least one day a month with nothing to do. This can be a lot more difficult than it sounds, but it's critical. Listen to your body and take sick time when you need to. Learn to take care of yourself and enjoy your time off.
Prioritize. Yeah, prioritizing seems like a given, but it's so easy to let your priorities get out of whack. Even if you have yo
ur priorities in order, life doesn't follow a simple, linear order. Remember that your personal relationship with God comes first and your marriage and family come before your ministry. If you're not married, it can be much more difficult to prioritize. Without a marriage or children, it's important to prioritize your close friends and extended family. Find a "family" who you can care for and who can care for you.
Staying balanced is a skill that develops over time, so keep practicing and enjoy your seesaw ride.