First Third Conversations

Taking Time to Rest, even if it means saying "No"

SereneA blog post by Tim Bowman

I haven't been working directly in youth ministry for very long, but there is one thing that I have learned, which is that youth ministry is hard. Seriously, it is not an easy profession to be a part of. There are so many different voices coming to you on a day to day basis: senior pastors, associate pastors, other church staff, synod staff, parents, volunteers, and of course, the youth.

We have a lot asked of us on any given day and even more in a given month or semester. Not only are there many voices around us, but, as with other ministries, these people are either providing input or asking something of us. Can we get coffee on Thursday? Can you do this service project? Can you preach this Sunday? Can you make sure my child stays out of trouble at the retreat?

There is a lot asked of us, and frankly, I find it a bit overwhelming at times. And because we are, by nature, usually agreeable people, we find ourselves taking on these extra items, challenges, and responsibilities. We say “yes” quite a bit.

But we all have our limits. We can only say “yes” so many times. There are only so many hours in a day to do the things we need to get done at church as well as managing our personal lives. Many of you readers are married and have kids of your own, and you need to find a way to spend time with your family. It is a busy, busy life we live. That is why I'm here to remind you that it is acceptable and even necessary to say “no,” or “not this week, or “maybe some other time.”

I know some of you out there are incredibly organized and driven Type A personalities (please see this site for more information on A & B persoanlity types) and the world actually would not function without you, so thank you for all you do, but sometimes it is necessary to take a break. Now I'm not going to just single out the Type A's out there -- us Type B's also have a “yes” problem, and it frequently comes down to a mishandled schedule.

There have been more than enough times when I have double-booked myself and therefore had to let someone down because, as much as I want to, I cannot be in two places at once. Or because us Type B's are more likely to go with the flow, we are more susceptible to taking on more than we can handle and don't realize it until we are in the middle of it.

Wherever you fall on the spectrum of Type A to Type B, we all need rest. We don't want to burn ourselves out. There is only so much we can do. We are only human. So don't feel like you need to be a superhero and take on everything at once.

I guess in a roundabout way I'm urging us all to take time out to take care of ourselves and to know our limits about how many different commitments we can take on. Burnout is real, and it is never fun to watch someone go through it.

Taking on too many things makes youth ministry more of a chore than a joy, so let’s all do our part to take care of ourselves and look out for our colleagues, so that we can all continue to lovingly engage others and help them on their paths of discipleship.

Tim BowmanAuthor Bio:
Originally, I am from Madison, Wisc. I am a senior Master of Arts student in the CYF program at Luther Seminary. I graduated from Bethel University in May of 2012 with a BA in Biblical and Theological Studies. I currently serve at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Bayport, Minn., as their CYF Intern.

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