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In my first few years of youth ministry I had a little ritual. After a long Sunday of youth ministry I would hit the diner with some of my fellow volunteer ministers and coworkers. It was a little tradition that involved rehashing the day, gravy fries and a cup of coffee. The next morning, despite feeling sore and tired, I would pull myself out of bed and go for a run. It was all a process to clear my mind and wind down after what is the busiest day of the week. No matter how long you’ve been in youth ministry, when it’s your time to speak, teach, and hang out with the teenagers the emotions and energy will wipe you out.
Youth ministry is exhausting emotionally, spiritually and physically. It’s easy to feel drained and that’s what will lead to burnout and resentment. How you bounce back is paramount to how long you will last. If you don’t have a strategy and let the moments, memories and emotions stay inside you won’t survive. You need to have a strategy that helps you bounce back and get in gear for the next week. That plan should include:
- People To Lean On: Whether it’s a positive or negative, you need people you can share your experiences with. When it’s positive you can use the affirmation from others to build you up. When it’s negative you can make sure there are others to lift you up and point you in the right direction. (Read more here on the type of people you need to lean on)
- Moments To Reflect: Engaging in some hobby, activity or recording your thoughts are all different ways to process a situation. Many times after an event in our lives we want to move onto the next; however, if we move to quickly we might miss out on some huge opportunities. Taking the time to reflect means giving yourself the opportunity to grow and learn more about yourself.
- A Routine To Physically Recover: Believe it or not youth ministry can be physically exhausting. I now come home, sit with my wife to chat, go to bed, sleep in a little, eat a hearty breakfast and go for a run. Schedule a routine for your mornings where you can get some physical rest. I’m not saying you have to sit still, but do something that refreshes you and builds back the margin. (Here is a post on how to build more margin)
- Giving The Situation Over To God: Depending on the night you are going to be filled with an array of emotions, thoughts and ideas. Some of these moments are good and need to be celebrated with God. Others will eat away at you and need to be offered up in prayer. Lean into His grace and embrace His love.
The way you bounce back from a long night of ministry is by having a plan, a team and time to hand it over to God. If you are holding in the emotions and releasing it in unhealthy ways you’ll find yourself growing tired quickly.
Do you have a routine? If so, what does it involve?