These are the words recently shared with me by a close KidMin friend. As she shared her struggles tears began to stream down her face and I could tell she was close to throwing in the towel and stepping away from her ministry. Tired, frustrated, and hurting she was on the verge of burnout.
Ever feel that way?
Ministry certainly implies a responsibility to care for and minister to people. The old adage, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” stands true. But how can we prevent (or maybe even avoid) burnout?
Before I go any further, let me be clear. As I share these next 5 thoughts I’m shouting to myself. I think the majority of KidMin leaders are bent toward hard work, giving much, and neglecting themselves in the process. Just know, that’s not going to play out well. We have to take care of ourselves! It’s just that simple.
The truth is no one else can take care of you if you don’t take care of yourself. Here are five areas to consider:
- Take Care of Yourself Spiritually: Your greatest asset in ministry isn’t your talents, your skills, or your resource room. Your great asset is your relationship with God. Do not neglect your time with Him. Are you reading and studying the scriptures begging God to speak to you fresh and new? Are you talking with God (not just to Him)? Are you worshiping? These things make a difference. Don’t be so busy serving Him that you don’t take the time to be with Him.
- Take Care of Yourself Physically: UGH … The Bible teaches that our body is the temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells. Some of us need to clean up the temple and consider our physical health. If you don’t take care of your physical body, eventually you’ll “reap what you have sown” and you’ll be on your back. Those extra pounds; that lack of sleep; those drive-through meals can really take its toil on your ministry.
- Take Care of Yourself Mentally: Be a forever student. Keep your mind sharp and your ministry fresh by reading, listening, and learning. If you think you know it all, you probably don’t!
- Take Care of Yourself Socially: When’s the last time you socialized with adults apart from your ministry? Cultivate friendships that don’t focus around your ministry. Talk about the weather, sports, your favorite TV show. Spend time with family and friends laughing and sharing life.
- Take Care of Yourself Emotionally: Too many times we bottle our feelings, let life “shake us up,” and then explode all over the place, often times making rash judgments with harsh consequences. Learn to manage your stress and saddle your emotions. Take a deep breath, take a walk around the block (apply point 2 here), talk with a friend but don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Remember Proverbs 15:1.
Bill Emeott serves as Lead Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Kids. A graduate of Mercer University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Bill has served as a Kid’s Minister and currently teaches 2nd Grade Bible study.