The Balancing Act of Ministry
When I think of what challenges I might experience as my life as a minister grows and changes, I suspect they won’t be much different than the things I’m already experiencing – maintaining clear boundaries, finding “me-time,” and being able to say “no” when needed.
To date I have been a part-time minister working at balancing ministry along with my full-time secular job as a bookkeeper, my life as a wife and a mom of two grown sons, and the rest of what I like to call “my crazy world.” Life is always a balancing act, and what I’ve found to be key in meeting the challenge of balance is boundaries. The busier I am the more important it is to maintain boundaries – in all aspects of life. Finding “me-time” is my greatest challenge; it is easy for me to push off taking time for myself. The ability to say “no” and not feel guilty is also a challenge. Balance only comes when one is aware one needs balance and it takes work to achieve and maintain it. I am thankful that I am able to maintain balance (most of the time).
I am fortunate in that I am surrounded by a host of colleagues that have been in ministry for a long period of time. They have provided me with great examples of what to do as well as what not to do. Those who “get it right” honor their days off by “unplugging” from all the technology that keeps us constantly available to the world. Honoring family time by not allowing constant interruptions is also important. They take time for themselves – outside of family time – time to enjoy a hobby or activity that is just for them. They’ve shown me spiritual practices to “fill up” my own spiritual well; practices such as Taize music, devotional readings that are shared with other colleagues, and the importance of being still. I believe these are just a few of the things that help a minister remain healthy, happy, and fulfilled in ministry.
As I look forward to continuing my career in ministry, I pray that I can continue setting healthy boundaries, practice a variety of methods that replenish my own spirituality, and remember the importance of Sabbath. Each of these allows me to preserve individual identity while caring for those in my midst. I believe these to be critical components of a healthy minister and of one who wishes to remain in ministry at length. While it all sounds simple as I write this, I know that each of these practices and skills remains a challenge to make happen in the midst of a busy life. I also know that it is possible because I have seen those who do so and from them I have seen the results I wish to achieve.
The Ministry Life Choices Initiative (MLCI) will assist those in years 1-5 of ministry with developing habits and practices for sustainable ministry. The relationship will span the first few years of theological education and the introductory years as a congregational minister. The MLCI is a ministry of the Pension Fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in partnership with Lexington Theological Seminary.
The MLCI blog series is designed to promote conversation surrounding issues related to clergy health and well-being. The blog seeks to include and incorporate writers from a wide variety of ministerial contexts, seminaries and demographics.