“Ministry leaders are in the people business. And because people are perpetual works in progress, there is no end to the amount of work we could do to serve them better. There is always more appointments that can be taken, more follow-up calls that could be made, more handwritten notes that could be crafted, more encouragement that could be offered, and more prayers that could be prayed. Therein lies the challenge and the question: When is enough enough?” – Bill Hybels, Axiom
If you’re in ministry, you know that this statement above hits the nail on the head. There is always more that can be done. Always. It never stops. Never. But as a leader, you have a responsibility to create your finish line at the end of the day. You need to know when to turn it off, go home, be with family, enjoy down time, and rest. There are several things that I have been learning to help me in this process over the past few years, and I want to share them with you here.
- I had a fear of man issue: Proverbs 29:25 The reality of my life was that I had a hard time turning things off because I put so much weight and glory on what others thought about me, my performance as a pastor, my availability, etc.. The fear of man is a snare, and it will literally dry you up and kill you. A snare is meant to kill. It’s a trap. Yes, there is always someone else to meet with, learn to say no for the day. There’s always another email. Learn to say no. Fear God, not man.
- I asked others to help me identify my idols: Ministry can become an idol quickly. I begin to find my acceptance and approval in it. I needed others to help show me the areas that I was blind to my idolatry in my ministry. We all need those people. Find them, ask them for help. Don’t let your workplace become your altar of worship. It’s a platform to worship, but it’s a terrible god.
- I developed a game plan: Every good team that plans on winning a game has a good game plan to see it come to fruition. Here are a few things I’ve done to help me each day/week to create finish lines at the end of the day.
- Disconnect from email: Put your phone in a box when you go home. Put that box near your door, drop your phone in there when you come home, and don’t touch it until your kids are asleep. Plain and simple. Don’t touch it. I have trouble disconnecting from my phone. I need this. If it stays in my pocket, I’ll pull it out every 10-15 minutes when I have that brief second “just to check to see if anything has come in that needs my assistance.” If they need you, they’ll call. I promise.
- Plan your week: I am a block calendaring guy. I plan my week in chunks. That helps me to say no to meetings when I need to be writing sermons. It helps me say no to email when I need to have a meeting with someone. I’ve included a picture of what my blocked calendaring looks like on a weekly basis. What you need to know: It’s not foolproof. It changes. It has to change. Why? Because I’m in ministry, and things change everyday. BUT, it helps me attack the week with a game plan.
Learn to turn it off at the end of the day. Guard your abiding in the vine by saying no to being constantly connected to your work. Create your own finish line.