From Terry Lee serving in Alberta, Canada
QUESTION: “I’m often physically and emotionally drained after a weekend of worship leading, but really want to give some quality time to my family instead of often being grumpy and short with them. Any tips on how to manage the priority of family while you fulfill your calling and career?”
Multiple weekend services can be physically and emotionally draining! All of us may face this problem from time to time. We want to do our best for Jesus. Our work is important. Honestly, I have a lot to learn on this subject. I have to continually cut back and say “no” to good things as well as to things I already know I don’t need to get involved with in order to guard family and personal time.
What should you do after you’ve completed multiple weekend services? The Greek word for this is “nap.” We have to schedule in rest after the weekend marathon run.
The real problem is not the weekend schedule. It’s the schedule we keep throughout the week. I’ve heard stories where worship leaders are out every night of the week plus doing multiple services on the weekend. Good things like rehearsals, hospital visits, counseling, small groups, special worship nights, concerts and more can add up quickly, but remember, everyone on the planet has the same number of hours per week. Too much good stuff in your schedule can equal “bad stuff” and is a recipe for burnout.
Sometimes I remind our Saddleback team that our church is always on, always open; there is always an event of some kind going on. If we’re not careful, we can easily exchange meaningful ministry for endless activity. No one can do it all. Even Jesus took time for rest! You should not apologize for resting.
Here are some tips that have been helpful to me:
1. Divert Daily: do something fun and relaxing every day.
2. Withdraw Weekly: take a day off each and every week.
3. Abandon Annually: take a real vacation, making a solid break from work each year.
4. Keep your body healthy: exercise and eat well.
5. Keep learning: continue the process of renewing your mind.
Remember where the true source of our energy and effectiveness comes from. Jesus tells us in John 15:5 that “apart from me, you can do nothing.”
Aside from the weekend marathon, I had to learn that when I went home daily and my children asked me to play basketball or whatever with them, I needed to change shoes and go do it. I find that my energy is renewed when I am serving my family. Family always comes before business or church ministry. It’s up to us to keep the family first. Lock your cell phone away when you are home. I try to get up early to do my catch-up busy work before the family gets going. Remember that the use of computer and the phone can become addicting. There is never an end to the work of ministry, but there is an end to the time you have each day, and the time you spend with your children. They grow up very fast.
Have you ever heard the phrase: “Make sure you make time for your family?” I’d love to see us as Christians and worship leaders restate the phrase to be “Make sure you make time for your ministry at the church.” Ministry to family is always the priority. Always. Family life is the non-negotiable. Our first calling is to give our very best creativity to our family, not our calling to serve the church. You can delegate at work, but it’s impossible to delegate our responsibilities to our spouses, parents and kids.
You are the only one who can be your children’s father or mother. Your ministry at home is a very important ministry and it is unjustifiable to place it anywhere but as your first priority. Consider this warning in scripture: “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matt. 18:5-6 NIV). Finally, this scripture commands us to “minister” at home: “So love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul and strength. Memorize his laws and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you’re at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and foreheads to help you obey them. Write these laws on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates” (Deut. 6:5-9 CEV). Ironically, now as I hear my children’s voices and their activity beginning to stir downstairs…I am reminded of the fantastic ministry opportunities that await today in my own home. Time to go.