Use these ideas to rekindle the
reasons you first said yes to God's call to children's
It's a typical Monday morning. Before you even get into your
office at church, your phone rings. It's one of the weekday
preschool teachers. It seems the holiday decorations in the
4-year-old classroom have disappeared.
"It must've been 'your' Sunday school kids," she accuses.
Shared space. Discipline issues. Disgruntled parents. Difficulty
finding qualified leaders. Whirlwind holiday marathons. These are
but a few of the typical issues in children's ministry. We enter
into ministry with a blissful "honeymoon" feeling, a confidence
that we can change the world. It typically doesn't take long before
reality sets in, though.
Sometimes each of us has to sit down and face the question, "Why
am I doing this? Is it really worth it?"
I remember seriously asking these probing questions after
completing the 16th vacation Bible school of my children's ministry
career. I was facing not only burnout but also a crisis of calling.
What did God really want me to do with my life? What was my
purpose? Was I fulfilling God's purpose for my life through my
current ministry position?
I needed to be "innergized," a new word I invented to describe
the work that God needed to do in me before he could completely
work through me. I needed an inside tune-up, a fresh touch of the
Holy Spirit working in my life -- helping me to find the answers I
When I find myself in need of "innergy," I remember the story of
Elijah running for his life from Jezebel in 1 Kings 19:3-21. Elijah was physically,
emotionally, and spiritually spent. His innergy was exhausted. God
gave him specific instructions to recharge his spirit.
First, the Lord instructed Elijah to lie down and sleep, then to
eat. When we face an innergy crisis in our life, God gives us
practical advice for getting the things our bodies need: rest and
When I face burnout and stop long enough to think for a few
seconds, I realize that I haven't been taking good care of myself.
I find I've rarely taken time to enjoy a leisurely lunch, a workout
at the gym, or even a good night's sleep. These times are critical
because we acquire a mental change through physical challenge. We
gain a new perspective through taking care of our physical
Registered dietician Pamela Smith says that "God has scripted
energy into every cell of your body. Getting the inborn energy
system operative and running smoothly is your best bet for
achieving a sense of physical well-being and vitality."
When your spirit needs recharging, first take an inventory of
your physical well-being.
• Diet Watch. Eating the right foods at the
right time will increase your energy. And the right foods include a
balanced diet with protein and complex carbohydrates, such as
fruits and grains, at every meal. Start your day with breakfast.
Skipping this meal means you'll spend your entire day fighting an
energy deficit, according to Smith.
Smith recommends, "Eat early, eat often, eat balanced, and eat
lean." And don't forget to drink plenty of water -- dehydration
results in fatigue.
• Exercise Routine. Exercising is not only a
stress-buster, it also increases your energy level and strengthens
your immune system. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise three times
a week will revitalize you, enabling you to be more alert and
energized. A brisk walk over lunch could be just the boost you need
to make it through a hectic day.
• Snooze News. The recommended seven to eight
hours of sleep a night that we've all heard of -- but may never
follow -- is the best prescription. Sleep provides the crucial time
needed for your body to recharge, both physically and mentally. How
you eat during the day and your exercise routine will determine how
well you sleep at night.
After considering these three areas, design a routine that works
for you to meet your physical needs. Taking care of your physical
needs enables you to be a better servant to others.
Partners And Pals
The second piece of advice that the Lord gave run-down Elijah
was to get someone to help. That's good advice for children's
ministers too! Here's how.
• Seek partners within your church. Elijah
recruited Elisha to be a partner in ministry. Too often we try to
accomplish everything by ourselves, and that's the precursor to
burnout. Recruiting others to serve in ministry not only helps us
do ministry, but it also provides encouragement as people catch the
vision of serving children in the church.
• Seek partners outside your church. Another
method of partnering is to find individuals who are serving as
children's ministry leaders in other churches in your community.
Many communities already have networking groups for children's
ministry. If there isn't a network in your area to plug into, call
churches in your community to find individuals serving in the same
capacity as you. Go to lunch with them. Develop a local network of
friends who serve children.
It's amazing what happens when you share your ministry
frustrations with others who fully understand. Verbalizing
disappointments, problems, and areas of concern with likeminded
people gets these burdens off your chest and may provide a solution
to an issue you're facing because someone has already wrestled with
The Fun Factor
Dale Carnegie once said, "People rarely succeed unless they have
fun in what they are doing." On a scale of one to 10, 10 being the
highest, what is your "Fun Factor"? Part of the challenge of living
a balanced life is making sure there's enough fun in your life! For
us adults, though, we have to be intentional about fun.
• Plan ahead. Map out your week so you get a
perspective on how much time you have to play. Schedule fun in.
Most people serving in ministry are dedicated, loyal, and hard
working. We usually don't have to worry about not working enough
hours! Church staff typically err on the opposite end, spending too
many hours giving and giving and giving. Plan time each day to make
even some mundane things more fun.
• Be playful. I once read about an executive
who came back from an out-of-town trip and had 100 phone calls to
return! Instead of begrudgingly sitting at his desk to accomplish
this feat, he figured out a way to have fun and make the calls at
the same time. He sat in his spa tub and, using his cordless phone,
returned all the calls in a way that made the task more
This scenario may not be your idea of fun at work, but you get
the idea. Sometimes we need to challenge ourselves to think fun.
When you make your weekly list of goals, phone calls, and things to
do, think about how you can do some of these and have fun at the
• Think outside the box. Depending on your
church's policies, are there things you could do from home? I've
returned many phone calls while enjoying a beautiful spring day in
my own back yard. I find that if I can keep up with phone calls, I
feel less overwhelmed. I can manage my days better when I maintain
a steady pace rather than a sprint-and-stop method.
If you have to go shopping for supplies, take a friend with you
to make the task more enjoyable. Plan a lunch date with your spouse
to break up the day. Schedule meetings off campus for a change of
scenery. Take a group of volunteers to an arcade for some
kid-culture training and stress-busting as you play the latest