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De-Stress Before You Distress

Lesleigh Keetch

Secrets to eliminating your stress--from children's ministry veterans.

It's no secret -- children's ministry is a lot of fun. It's also a lot of work. And no matter how you're involved -- whether fearlessly leading the way or serving as behind-the-scenes support -- there's little doubt that you know how it feels to be stressed out.

Stress is a leading cause of burnout and attrition in children's ministry. In fact, only a tiny minority of people in ministry say they don't feel moderately to severely stressed at times.

We'll probably never be able to totally eliminate stress from our lives and jobs-and a small amount of stress can actually be healthy. But you can learn to manage unavoidable stress and circumvent needless anxiety.

We gathered veteran children's ministers from across the United States and asked them to reveal their secrets for de-stressing their ministry. Here's what these been-there-done-that children's ministers had to say.

LESS-STRESS LEADERSHIP

No leader is immune to stress. And while some deal with stress better than others, stress still erodes well-being and can lead to physical and emotional problems. Fend off stress with these tips.

  • Take mandatory time off. Make one day per week a day off and stick to it. Don't make any work-related commitments on that day. Don't lead small groups or church-related functions. Think of it as wearing a name tag that says, "Today I'm not a children's minister."
  • Get organized. Tidy your workspace. Evaluate how you work. Learn to work smarter -- not harder. Delegate. Avoid multitasking; instead, focus on completing one task before moving to another.
  • Think small. Organize your thoughts and actions by breaking large tasks into smaller ones. Often large tasks may seem overwhelming, but smaller pieces are easier to accomplish.
  • Focus on decisiveness. Avoiding making decisions -- even those we dread-is a waste of time. Even a wrong decision is better than none at all if we're forced to learn from and live with the results. Be careful, be considerate, but don't procrastinate.

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