Life is hard. Ministry is hard. Balancing ministry and family and school and my own soul is hard. It just is… and it’s so hard, that life has a way of knocking good people out of the game. I’ve been in ministry long enough to have seen first hand the casualties of marriages, careers, families, and personal faith all destroyed by hard stuff and poor choices that followed.
In an effort to not become a casualty of the same statistics, I had to confess this past December that I was becoming a victim of my own bad habits and neglecting the care of me for the care of others. I know this to be theologically and practically wrong, but I still was doing it. First to go was exercise. Then reading. Then sleep. Then eating right. Then…. I started kicking the dog. It was bad.
So I have had to make the following adjustments before my kids call dog protective services on me:
ME TIME IS NOT SELFISH TIME, IT’S NECESSARY TIME. If I don’t take care of my own body and soul, I quickly lose the energy I need to be a decent dog owner. Nevermind the husband I want to be, the father I need to be, and the minister I was called to be. This time is the easiest time for me to give away to other pressures. I’ve had to make strong steps and seek accountability to not let this slide anymore.
I CAN’T BE ACCESSIBLE ALL THE TIME. I’ve had to fight back on the “I’m a youth pastor 24-7″ mindset. I’ve been trying to come home, put down my computer and cell phone, and be fully present to my wife and kids. I’ve had to limit my time on Facebook, Twitter, and even e-mail at work. I’ve had to block out “do not interrupt” time on my calendar where I can get stuff done. Truth is, I’m really not this important and I don’t need to be this accessible. They invented 911 for things that can’t wait. Everything else can.
I CAN’T DO ANYTHING THAT IS NOT MY JOB. It feels super good to be helpful to others. I’m not saying I can’t be a team player. But I am saying, sometimes my life gets too stressful because I take on that which was not mine to do in the first place. I can’t be the 911 dispatcher and I can’t be superman either…
… and when I let these walls down, the first thing that goes is exercise and then it’s only a matter of time before I’m kicking the dog again.
Brian is a youth ministry veteran of 16 years, currently the student ministries pastor at Journey Community Church near San Diego, CA. And he blogs!