As a Ministry leader, you know the constant, subtle and not so subtle demands to be personally involved in many of the different activities of Church. Healthy boundaries in ministry will certainly go a long way in helping you maintain the heart and quality of your ministry, your relationship with God and with your family life.
I have had numerous opportunities to coach ministry professional in establishing a balance for their ministry and personal life. This balance results in greater fruit with greater effectiveness, peace and satisfaction. A key to this balance is understanding ministry goals. Identifying these will tell you a great deal of where you are at and whether or not you are headed towards burnout, or burning out the people you minister to.
What activities do you associate with your calling as a Ministry Leader? Have you ever stop to consider if you are aiming at the right target?
Activity does not mean effectiveness - The single greatest plague among North American pastors is "workaholism' leading to staggering numbers of pastors and ministry leader burning out, marriages ending in divorce and a host of other issues. But it does not need to be that way. Busyness and activity, while a cultural indication of success, can and is often counter productive to spiritual leaders. The ability to bring balance to your life with healthy boundaries will afford quality time for the things that matter most!
This balance is often elusive for many pastors. To begin the process ask yourself "What matters most?" This will take some time. What you are looking for is what matters most to you. Beware, there are many people who are too willing to load that list up for you! But what do you think? What matters most to you, why, and in what ways do your actions confirm or deny it? The reality is we do what we value - what you give your time to reveals what in actuality really matters to you. This may be startling and a little uncomfortable but it will help us see a potential disconnect between what we want to value and what we actually do! While we may be oblivious to what we value by our actions, it often very apparent to those we serve, especially our families.
A few thoughts towards healthy boundaries in ministry
By prayerfully reflecting upon your daytimer, seeking the feedback from those who know and love you, you can begin to recognize some trends in your life.
What does my daytimer tell me I value?
- Do these seem like healthy priorities?
- What general area is consuming the most life and yielding the least life?
- In what ways am I working within my gifts?
- What opportunities are there to capitalize on this strength?
In what ways am I working outside of my gifts?
- Are these tasks necessary and am I the only one who can do them?
- Who around me is better gifted for these tasks and how can I empower them to do so?
Consider Neil Cole's statement:
"Don't plant churches. Plant Jesus! Plant the Gospel of the Kingdom. Church will grow naturally from that, and reproduce organically. - Neil Cole. Church 3.0.
- Ask Holy Spirit to help you discern the ways you are planting Jesus in the lives of those you serve, your family and community.
- Ask for discernment of what things, if any at all, inhibit the planting of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
- Isaiah 40:31 - Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
- Matthew 11:30 - My yoke is easy, my burden light.
Take a few minutes with each. Don't over analyze it. Maybe repeat each slowly and quietly allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to you and simply respond. Do you feel anxiety? Guilt? Stress? Ask Holy Spirit to help you see the root and ask Him for help.
Possible next steps:
- Respond to what Holy Spirit places on your heart. This will ALWAYS bring life.
- Look for one thing which could be delegated and do one ministry task you get life from!
- Look for one evening to spend with your family - no phone calls or smartphone!
- Take your significant other out for dinner (alone) and turn off the smartphone!
- Take an hour, turn off the email, telephone and listen to some music.
- Take an hour to read for pleasure or another hobby or leisure activity.
You may also benefit from establishing a relationship with a Ministry Coach who can help you tend to the day to realities of ministry and also help you discern strategies from healthy boundaries and help keep you accountable!