To say that life in the ministry is hectic is an understatement. Just to give you a glimpse of my day: I am currently in the car riding to a revival service 4 hours away; this morning I found my self conducting a funeral, and before that I was trying to steal a few hours of study lest Sunday find me unprepared. Not to mention playing with my children, talking to my wife, communicating with church staff about the Mother’s Day service this weekend, returning calls, consoling members, and forwarding emails. Needless to say, many days I feel like a feather in a hurricane (and I’m not even the busiest pastor I know. There are so many others that are far busier than I!)
The constant tug-and-pull of life and ministry can overwhelm you and take the joy out of serving our Great Savior if you don’t learn and implement one word… “Balance“. Here are some lessons I have learned in the few years of pastoring on balancing life in the service of the King:
1. Set your priorities
Here is the fact, some things are more important than others things. Some things matter and some things don’t. The sooner you learn what does matter and what doesn’t, the better off you’ll be. For me, these are the priorities in my life…
(a) My private walk with God and the study of his word- If I preach to thousands, feed the multitudes, yet lose my personal walk with Christ I have lost it all.
(b) My wife and children- Before I am a pastor, counselor, or preacher, I am a husband and father. God can use anybody to pastor Church Street, preach to the masses, or counsel people, but only one man can be a husband to my wife and a father to my children and that is me!
(C) My church family- At the end of the day my spiritual gift is to lead, feed, and shepherd the local assembly where God has placed me. I love helping other churches and flocks but I cannot help them to the neglect of the flock God has entrusted me to.
If I can keep these things at the top of the list in my life everything else will fall into place.
2. Say NO!
It was a blessed day in my life when I realized that I could not do everything, be everywhere, and cure everybody. Sometimes in order to keep the priorities in order I have to say “No” to certain things. Saying no is hard especially for me because I desire to be everything, go everywhere, and cure everybody, but I can’t, therefore I have to say “no” to certain people and things. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t important, it just means that the lack of time doesn’t allow me to do them. Learn to say no to somethings so you can say yes to the priorities!
3. Schedule your time
I have heard it said all my adult life, those who fail to plan, plan to fail. I have found this to be absolutely true! My wife has helped me immensely in this area. Your schedule cannot be your “God”, but it can be your “guide”. Emergencies, unexpected visitors, and overlooked appointments do occur and sometimes schedules must be changed, but I encourage you to set monthly, weekly, and daily schedules so that you know the general direction to need to set yourself in.
4. Surround yourself with like minded people- The Old Testament story of Amnon is all the example we need of the influence of friends. It was his friend Jonadab who led him down the path of seducing and ultimately raping his sister Tamar. The Bible makes it very clear that the influence of his friend was the downfall of Amnon. The same is true in our life even in issues that aren’t necessarily sinful. It is vital to surround myself with people who have the same goals, drive, and mindset. Friends are like hands on a steering wheel, the one who has a hold on you determines the direction.
Life in the ministry is a greater honor, privilege, and joy that I could have ever imagined. I could do nothing in life more rewarding than what I’m doing right now, but in order to keep the delight in the ministry, I must keep the balance in my life.