Going into ministry I felt completely prepared. My training and experience before my first full year was great. I had the tools, the theological training, and the right people in place to call if I needed the help.
The problem was I got caught up in the charge and excitement in the first year. I often forgot about the tools I had collected over the years. I gathered them up during the momentum of the year but instead of using them I kept them in my toolbox. As I look back I wish I had broken out that toolbox, but the main reason I didn’t was because I felt like I had no time.
As you and I both know, you do not have time for more when you are in ministry, but let me encourage you to create space to break into that toolbox. I have since learned and continue to learn to prepare for more space, for more sanity, and for God.
Prepare for Space-
Ministry is about people. More importantly it’s about meeting people in their walks with God and partnering along side of them in that walk. Humanity is fallen and we must be prepared to support those we are called to minister to when they need it (Romans 3:23).
If we fail to plan for space, this becomes hard to do. In planning your ministry schedule make sure to create space to support those you are in ministry with, those you are ministering to, and make space to support your family. All of these people will need your time, but if you are getting by on a week to week schedule chances are you are not going to have the space to support them or you are going to over work yourself and try to do it all.
HOW I DO IT: For me, I found that the best way to do this is to not prepare for week one and two. Instead, to get ahead, I work week to week, but then I make myself work on things for a few months out. Therefore, in the moment I am maintaining. I am getting by on the week to week, but when I get to that month that I’ve squeezed into planning suddenly I’m ahead. I keep up the week to week, but now instead of preparing for that Sunday I’m preparing for a month out. My ministry is still new and still adapting, but if things continue to go well I suspect by this time next year instead of working a month out, I’ll be working 6 months out.
Prepare for Sanity-
Churches need a disclaimer before you take a job, or maybe colleges need a disclaimer before you study to be in ministry. Either way let me go ahead and fill that gap for you now by writing the following disclaimer:
By entering ministry you will live and work in a stressful, adrenaline, and high energy environment. In this environment you will be expected to lead as an example of what it means to seek after Christ. You will need to take to heart 1 Peter 3:15 as you will need to always be ready to give a defense for the hope within you.
I love being in ministry and I do not doubt that God called me to this role. However, as I prepare space to be there for others, I need to prepare for my own sanity. Ministry schedules are filled with time wasters. Bob is 10 minutes late for your meeting, Janette needs you to update the system and do hours of paper work, and the list goes on and on. Even if you handle stress well or like to live off of adrenaline it will catch up with you.
HOW I DO IT: For me the biggest thing that has saved me is having a schedule for my week and combining as many tasks as possible. Have a book to read? Do it while waiting on Bob to show up. Need to relate more to the kids? Watch a few kids programs while doing paper work. As you are combining though make sure to allow for your own sanity. Give yourself tasks everyday that energize you in ministry, in your personal walk with God, or even just something that you like to do.
Prepare for God-
Plan for everything and be ready to let God change everything.
Martin Luther said, “Pray as if everything depends on God, then work as if everything depends on you.” God works in ways that we will never know or fully understand. As you move forward in ministry do not forget who is in control and whom you serve.
As someone who has at least 30 running checklists for ministry projects, goals, and initiatives, at the end of the day I hope I never forget to let God. No matter what I do He knows better, so as I move forward, as I prepare, as I pray my hope is that I do not go to Him with my hopes and desires, but that His will for me might influence what my desires are.
With almost ten years of Kid Min, Joe has served in many roles as he sought to teach Children the truth of the Gospel. Currently he serves full-time as the Children’s Ministry Director at LifePoint Church in Quincy, IL. In addition to his role there he is an event planner, blogger, speaker, and coffee addict. Connect with Joe by visiting his blog, http://joemally.com, and by following him on Twitter @joe_mally.