As I hit early November, it had occurred to me that I had not had a day off from work for three weeks straight. Between live streaming Mass, the usual ministry obligations, and grad school, I was burning the candle from both ends. This was highly unusual for me, and I knew I had a three day weekend planned, which would be a relief, but there was one lingering question I had in my head, “Was This Crazy Work Schedule An Exception, Or Was It Becoming The Norm?”
Many of our clients come to us because they have too much on their plate and are trying to unload it. The reality for many ministry leaders is that as the workload increases, time never expands. Whenever I hear someone talk about their exhausting schedule, the first question I ask is, “When Is Your Day Off?”
I’ll get a variety of answers from, “It Fluctuates Each Week And Depends On What Is On My Schedule.” to “I Only Work A Few Hours On This Day And That Day, Which Adds Up To Like A Day Off.” When ministry’s busyness takes over, it can be difficult to slow down, but if we are never allowing ourselves to refuel, burnout is inevitable.
So, how do you take a day off if you’ve been grinding it out and working non-stop? It starts with:
ACCOUNTABILITY FROM THOSE WHO SUPPORT YOU
I used to make the mistake of saying to people, “Pick A Day And Stick To It!” but that only works if you feel like you have permission to drop and delegate tasks. You also need people who will check-in with you to make sure you are resting and taking time away. While asking a friend can be helpful, you need to ask:
- Your Supervisor/Pastor: They don’t want you to burn out. They might ask a lot of you, but they probably assume that you’ve set boundaries to guard your rest. The only way they’ll know that you are working non-stop is if they are by your side 24/7. Ask them for insight on how they manage their schedule and discuss an optimal time that you can take off regularly.
- A Colleague Or Peer: Talking to a supervisor can be a little intimidating, so going to a coworker or peer is the next best thing. They can give you advice on how they manage time off and create more margin in their life. And even if you talk to your pastor, it is also good to have someone who understands your ministry speaking into your life.
- Family Members And Friends: This group of people will feel the brunt of your burnout first. They need to be the ones who can call you out because they love you. Going through your schedule with them regularly will remind you of how work can impact your personal life.
Accountability is key to creating safeguards in your ministry. It would be best if you had people who will help you focus on what matters most. But, in addition to accountability, you need to:
ADDRESSING YOUR DRIVE TOWARDS WORKING MORE
Why are you working so much? Is it fear of failure? Are you concerned about your reputation? Do you not want to let the team down? No one wants to be a slacker, but the reality is that no one should work to a point where they are running on empty. The best place to answer this question is with rest, on a retreat with the guidance of a spiritual director, therapist, coach, or trusted friend.
Deep down inside, you have something that is driving you to do more and not stop. Knowing your motivational drive is essential to being productive and healthy. Make sure you are taking time to pray and reflect on why you are working so much. Please bring it to your accountability team and discuss it. You might discover unclear expectations from you or your leadership. The clarity can bring relief so that you can ease back and find rest.
DOING THE WORK TO REPRIORITIZE YOUR SCHEDULE
Once you identify a team to assist you and the source of your motivational drive, it is critical to do the work to build a healthy schedule. Rebuilding your schedule is similar to rebuilding a budget. Certain items matter more. A great example of how to reprioritize can be found in this video from FranklinCovey (CLICK HERE) that explains what should come first with your time. And while we might overlook it, a day off should be on the top of that list.
When we look at scripture, God created the earth, and then He rested (Genesis 2:2). While it might seem like rest comes at the end of our work, think about how God was also getting started. He rested; we see how the story unfolds. In other words, the rest is not only for recovery but refueling. When you reset your schedule, make sure your day off, sleep, lunch break, etc., are on there first and rearrange the rest.
Don’t let your days fly by, filled with busyness and frustration. Incorporate that day off and, if you can get to two. While it means less time to do other things, you’ll be refreshed, energized, and a smarter worker in those hours you’ve dedicated to ministry if you need assistance with prioritizing, managing your schedule, or discovering your motivational drive, set up a free appointment with us by clicking HERE.
What does your day off look like? How do you rest and refuel?
This article originally appeared here.