Picture courtesy of traveldealsnetwork.com

I have a love/hate relationship with summer.  On the one hand it’s an awesome time of relationship building with students. While, on the other hand it is one of the busiest seasons in our ministry. I can handle the craziness because I know it’s just a “season.” However, it is easy in ministry to turn this short stint into a lifestyle.  It begins with allowing phone calls and emails to creep into my day off.

I understand that just saying, “I’m off now,” doesn’t allow our brains to disconnect. Perhaps we take a vacation while sacrificing 1, then 2, then 5 days off.  Obviously, it begins with allowing ourselves both VACATIONS and DAYS OFF.   Beyond just taking the time, how can we make these days restful?


  • Talk Ministry But Don’t Talk Details

I love to talk ministry, but logistics, details and daily frustrations are on “moratorium” in conversations on these days.   Take the time to get back to the heart of your calling and take an eagle’s eye view.  Dream.  If you could do anything in ministry and nothing held you back what would it be?

  • Enjoy Something

Has it been forever since you called an old friend, visited a favorite ice cream shop or built a sand castle? When is the last time you took time for family and just say back and liked being with them? Take a moment to allow yourself the freedom to remember what you like to do and who you like spending time with that isn’t in your job description.

  • Shut Off Technology

Yes, I know everyone says this. Still, I genuinely used to believe the world would stop spinning if a text, email or Facebook query were put on hold.  The voicemail of a couple of good friends of mine actually say,  “If you are leaving a message on X day, that is my day off and I will not be getting back to you until the following day.”   Me?  I know myself, if I have my smart phone all of this is too easily accessible.   So on my days away, my husband holds my phone.  Turn it all off intentionally.

  • Avoid the urge to use this as “make up” time.

Sometimes this is inevitable.  The grocery shopping or spring-cleaning might need to happen.   However,  as a rule do not allow off times to be the time you “get caught up” on reading or chores that have been falling to the wayside.  If you genuinely LOVE leadership books and they bring you energy then great.  If not they should not make your beach reading.

On vacations and days off most importantly remember the three “R’s:”  Refresh, Reflect, Relax.  Jesus took time to steal away and be with His father, just for the purpose of talking to Him.  It was something He loved to do,  that filled him up for what was ahead.   If we learn to rest in the arms of Christ,  we can begin to work towards a burn out relapse.   The last week will not give you ALL the answers,  but they should get you started.

What helps you unwind on vacations and days off?







Plan Your Time Off Now

 —  September 17, 2012 — 2 Comments

This week we’re on the topic of time off—and one of the best ways to make sure you use your vacation time in the hectic youth ministry world is to plan your vacation: RIGHT NOW.

That’s right…put some dates on the family and church calendar today and reserve your right to get away. Look for an opening (if you’re like us there will only be a couple of choices anyhow), and stake your claim.

Plan a weekend getaway.
Weekends off in the church context are rare, so find something fun to do that will really refresh you to keep going in the long haul. If you’re smart you’ll find a 3-day weekend and really make something special out of it. Make some memories in those 48-hours you’re off the grid.

Plan some time with just your spouse.
We’re shocked at how often we hear our fellow youth workers share that it has been YEARS since they slipped away for a night with their spouse… without their kids. Getting alone time isn’t easy, but it’s well worth it (for all sorts of reasons!). Can’t get away overnight? How about a regular date night? Can’t afford a regular date night? Then do it on the cheap (Netflix, anyone?), but DO IT.

Plan something refreshing right after the busiest season.
After summer camp you need to build in some comp time for yourself. Give yourself a day or two break when you come off a big event to acclimate to the real world. This summer we both took some extended time off after one of the busiest seasons of ministry we’ve ever had. And we planned it months ago so our families knew the reprieve was coming soon.

Your context and freedoms are different than ours, but grab your calendar right now and block out something next month and something next year. No joke. Do it right now!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

There are busy seasons and then there are seasons in which we make ourselves busy.  Your typical busy seasons in youth ministry are:


During those seasons everyone is busy, everyone is moving and so keeping up with the pace is natural.  Then there are the seasons in which we make ourselves busy.  Those can vary depending on your ministry and your personality; however, if you don’t slow down you’ll face disaster.  So how do you know when you are making yourselves unnecessarily busy?

Basic Mistakes Are Made: Things that shouldn’t go wrong go wrong.  Maybe it’s forgetting to call someone back or sending an email to the wrong person.  When you rushed there is no time to get feedback, and review materials.  And, that’s because it’s hard to focus when you are moving too fast.

Piles Form:  Being busy means consuming your entire margin.  When your margin disappears you sacrifice the time it takes to go through email, and process paperwork.  When piles begin to form, your sense of order disappears and with no order there is only chaos.

Relationships Become Tense – Healthy relationships become tense and tense relationships become confrontational.  If you are moving too fast you aren’t going to take the time to process everything you say or do.  Your words might say one thing; however, your tone another.  When we move quickly we focus on ourselves, which could affect others.  Relationships take time.

Your Physically Wasted – Busy seasons have an end point, when you make yourself busy the end isn’t as tangible.  This can lead to over exhaustion and when you are tired you cannot be productive.

If you notice that life has picked up pace and you don’t know why it’s probably due to a lack of discipline and accountability.  When tension strikes and the unexpected happens you need to have people and systems that will hold you accountable.

If you aren’t going through a busy period now, take time to prepare for them by gathering a group of individuals who will hold you accountable.  If you are in the midst of chaos find someone you trust and pray with them.  Have the people you love and trust work with you to build margin and a schedule that will get you through these busy periods.  In the end you will prevail.

What are the other consequences of moving too fast?  What are some of the reasons behind it?

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more great youth ministry articles and thoughts on his exceptional blog Marathon Youth Ministry.