Getting Focused & Fighting Stress When Your Ministry Feels Frantic

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Have you ever made a last-minute trip to every possible store, looking desperately for sand dollars, gum drops, toothpicks, alum, swim noodles, that one book you needed for the lesson?   Have you ever stayed up way too late at night to study your lesson?  Have you ever had so many responsibilities on your To-Do list that you just couldn’t figure out where to begin?
That all-out scramble to get everything done is something that I am altogether too familiar with.  As you can imagine, it causes undue stress on everyone involved.  It causes a wide-eyed look of madness in my eyes, accompanied by unexplained twitching.  More seriously, it takes my attention away from the focus of the lesson (always Christ) and moves it towards something largely insignificant (finding swim noodles.)
Now I know that not all of us are wired as such.  Some of you out there are actually one step ahead, organized, not crazed, and you don’t take on more than you can chew.  I admire people like this, because they haven’t spilled a last-minute coffee on themselves in the car, they have found time to shower, and they exude a sense of peace.  This post is not written for those people.
To be quite frank, this post was mostly just written for me.  It seems like I need to re-evaluate my priorities every few months so that I am daily living life in God and not only for God.  Life lived for God and not in Him will set our pace too fast for the twenty-six miles that is our life.  Our kids and families do not want us for the hundred yard dash.  They need us for the whole marathon, till we cross that finish line.  If the frantic pace of ministry has gotten hold of your soul, stop running breathlessly and walk for a bit towards a more focused peace.  Here are some suggestions as to how to do that.  (I sure better be taking notes.)
From Frantic to Focused Ministry

  1. Write a missions statement: What is the focal point of your ministry?  Your life?  Have it written for you to see on a daily basis (on the wall, in a desk frame, etched in your Bible).  Refer to it each morning and pray over it.
  2. Work within your strengths: What unique abilities has God-given you?  Is it encouragement, teaching, administration, service, hospitality, etc?  Working in the way God has designed you to work will eliminate frustration and time-wasting.
  3. Learn to delegate: What gifts do you see in your staff, in your students’ parents, or in your students themselves?  Beyond easing your work, you will be investing confidence in another and allowing for their gifts to be strengthened.  Things may not get done just as you would like, but you’re teaching valuable lessons about serving, the body of Christ, and community.
  4. Say a “guilt-free” no: There will always be more ways to serve your church and invest in your ministry.  We have to be a people who sacrifice ourselves for others, yet work within boundaries.  Say no to a ministry request if it compromises your family relationships or your own health.
  5. Use time wisely: This is a given, but we live in a world of distraction.  Consider keeping track of how you spend time in a week.  With your calendar, allot blocks of time for responsibilities and work within those blocks.  You will find yourself working with more focused objectives and meeting your goals.
  6. Schedule in breathing room: This is a big one.  We are not workhorses.  For some of us, our schedule is so frantic that it is affecting our health.  We do not take the time to exercise, eat well, or sleep.  Use the Sabbath Day for rest, schedule in days for spiritual refreshment, take retreats and vacations, and allow ourselves room to breathe, spend time with our families, play basketball, go for a run, sing, read, whatever that may be.
  7. Seek God in the morning: Spend time with God for your own spiritual refreshment, not only to prepare for ministry.  Gain your perspective and focus early in the morning so that you have a direction in which to run.  Pray that God would direct your steps according to His will.  That way, if interruptions find you in whatever form, you’ll know that they may just be God ordained.
  8. Remember your role: Tyler Wigg Stevenson says, “The world is not mine to save, but I can serve the mission of God who has already done so.”  Remembering who God is and who we are allows us the freedom to step down from a place of frantic involvement and step in to a place of focused ministry.

Click here to leave a comment. Do you have any suggestions as to how to focus your ministry and steer clear from an anxious, last-minute, and frantic pace?  We would love to hear your comments.  Thank you!

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