Finding Time To Recharge : Sabbath-ing in Full Time Ministry
Finding time to recharge can be challenging in full time ministry. Some wise person told me before I started in full time ministry, that there will always be ministry to do. I can relate to that comment now as ministry can consume you and it can be challenging to find time to yourself, and find time to recharge with God. I’ve learned that there is a ton of advice about this phenomenon, but thought I would share my own experience and suggestions on how to navigate your time to, hopefully, survive for the long run.
Over plan your calendar – Look months ahead, if not a year ahead, and make plans early. Include all of your personal, family and ministry events. Without having a plan ministry that you didn’t plan will fill it up. This limits calendar surprises.
Don’t wait to plan events until the last minute – There are many opportunities in ministry for events. While the event generally always makes it on your calendar, do the major milestones in planning that event make it on your calendar? I use OmniPlan to develop small, but effective, project plans for large events. If you have a Christmas Eve service, or an Easter Egg hunt think months in advance what you might need, who you might need and how to plan WAY earlier to eliminate the last week rush phenomenon that seems prevalent in ministry.
Develop a “system” or rhythm – There are many out there, and no one has the perfect system. One example is date weekly, rest quarterly and vacation annually. This might mean go on a date with your spouse weekly, try to go away once a quarter to recharge and vacation annually. My system includes the following (and I’m not perfect at following this yet):
Date night 2-3x per month with my wife. Nothing fancy, but time that we can go out without the kids. Trying this once a week for us is pretty unrealistic. We connect regularly at home.
Connect with God by myself, away from all else, twice a month. This isn’t an overnight stay, but I try to get 6-8 hours away to recharge. These are different than connecting with God daily / weekly. This is intentional time where you disconnect from everything and only connect with the Father.
Quarterly rests – I’m lucky enough to have one weekend off per quarter and it allows me to visit other churches. This allows me to worship and listen to a message without thinking critically about what is going on during service and who I might need to connect with.
Annual vacation – Get away with the family.
Understand your priorities – Weekly I’m asked to change my calendar in the future for something or someone who needs time. Without understanding how you are going to prioritize those events you will struggle at every request. For instance, if my son wants to go to a high school basketball game and it has been on the calendar for a month, I would probably not overlap that when someone wants to meet at the same time. That’s a silly example, but requests for overlapping events happen ALL THE TIME. Make sure to prioritize personal time with God and put it on the calendar. Don’t schedule something over a higher priority task.
Share your calendar – Don’t let your system or your calendar be a secret. Share your calendar if it is online with your administrative assistant, co-workers, etc. If you have a paper calendar make a copy for your spouse. There should be no surprises for others who want your time.