Several times in recent weeks, my lead pastor has referenced how ministry slows down in the summer. At first he did not understand why I looked at him like he had three heads. Yes, weekly ministry may look different for youth and children’s ministries, but for most the summer definitely doesn’t slow down. Between VBS, camps, and special events, many leaders will work an extraordinary number of hours within just a few weeks. And, oh by the way, at some point you have to plan for the fall.
How does the gospel-centered leader respond during these seasons where you are just plain tired?
- Recognize that you are not a superhero. Only God is all-knowing, ever-present, and limitless in energy. You are not Him. During busy seasons we push ourselves to the limits. Rest is not of the devil. Recognizing your own limitations is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of being the human God made you to be. It is not healthy to try to be the Energizer Bunny who never stops. That might work for a little while, but eventually fatigue and burnout will catch up. God is the hero of this busy season, not you.
- Don’t rely on your own energy. When we run on adrenaline during these busy seasons, we tend to rely on ourselves and our talents. Colossians 1:29 says, “I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me.”
- Guard your mouth and your heart. Maybe you don’t function this way, but one of the easiest ways that I can tell that I am tired is I become very snappy and short with the people in my life. I put on a great friendly face at church, but my husband gets the sharp response. I smile at a hundred volunteers, but my closest friend says something and I snap back. I get way too sensitive way too quickly. Just like I tell my five year old that she is tired when she starts whining, I also need to watch for these cues in my own life.
- Prioritize your daily spiritual walk. Our big, public moments of ministry must be fueled by the quiet discipline of our relationship with Jesus. When busy takes over, unfortunately it is easy to neglect things like personal Bible study or prayer. How silly is it that we do this?
- Don’t quit. Have you ever daydreamed about being a Wal-Mart greeter or a paperclip sorter in the middle of a big event where there are lots of demands on you and questions to answer? Now is not the time to go put in an application. Now is not the time to say, “If only I was at a bigger/smaller/richer/nicer/whatever church…” Now is the time to persevere exactly where God has placed you.
- Remember that the Gospel you are teaching applies to you. God is in charge, not you. You will mess up, but that’s why Jesus came. Your worth is not in how many kids go to youth camp or how many volunteers are at VBS. Your worth is in the God who created you and gave you His righteousness. God’s grace upon grace is not just a subject for a lesson, but a reality for your life as you lead.