Caring for Yourself in Ministry

by on in Leadership.

I want to talk about self care.

Now hang on. “Self care” isn’t as bad as it sounds. It seems as though “self care” is often equated with “self help,” and those words do not resonate well for most evangelical Christians.

I think it’s time to change how we view self care. Especially if you are in the trenches of Middle School Ministry.

To do ministry well, and for the long haul, we must care for ourselves. This is something very close to the heart of our Father for his children.

We all know this to be true, I’m sure. But are we really consistent with the refueling, renewing and re-engaging our hearts and souls? This greatly impacts our ministry to middle school students. Because, let’s be honest, if we rely solely on our own strength, our own ministry skills, our own charisma, and our ministry momentum, we will not be able to sustain our ministries for very long.

And, then, when we’ve burned out, we run the risk of losing our love and passion for the amazing young people we serve.

In my life, my passion and calling to work with middle school students is clear. It has been for a long time. But I’m not getting any younger, and I definitely lost my cool factor a while ago!

So, what is it that keeps me going? 

It’s the care and attention I give to my own heart.

Caring for myself allows me to continue to be an effective Christ-follower, middle school pastor, husband, father, and friend.

Have I figured it all out? Absolutely not. But I’m working to make sure that my heart stays connected to the Father’s heart.

In Matthew 22:37, Jesus tells us, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Do you want to do that? Then you’ve got to care for your own physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. Self care will look different for all of us. It’s about how you best connect with God. It’s about finding a rhythm you can sustain.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Am I taking time each day to invest in my walk with Jesus?
  • Do I open up the Word of God as simply a child of God, and not just as a middle school pastor?
  • Do I schedule time away from the office to connect to the Lord on a regular basis?
  • Do I take personal prayer retreats periodically in each ministry year?
  • Have I talked with my supervisor about boundaries and where I might need help in order to give proper time to care for myself?
  • What am I doing for exercise and how are my eating habits?
  • Am I actually honoring the Sabbath and resting?

What’s your biggest struggle in caring for yourself as you also serve as a Middle School Pastor?