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When You’re Pulled in 1,000 Directions

The pastor doesn’t think you work hard enough. Your spouse wants
to see you twice this month. The nursery coordinator quit today.
And this is Monday! What might happen the rest of the week?

On days like this, screaming may help, and staying away from
sharp objects is a practical consideration. You begin to wonder
where family life ends and ministry begins. How can anyone possibly
juggle the pressures of family, children’s church, Sunday school,
recruiting, staff relationships, and still remain Christian?

Relax. There is hope. God didn’t call you into children’s
ministry only to allow you to perish in the busywork of it. Here’s
what works for me when I feel 1,000 needs attempting to pull my
life apart.

Prioritize. A friend of mine once bragged that
he kept a 15-minute slot open in his daily schedule for his wife.
My reaction to that is twofold. First, thank God he set some time
aside for his wife. Second, does she mean so little to him that her
only contact is determined by a Day-Timer?

Relationships are the foundation of any ministry. Relationship
with God is first. Following close behind is your relationship with
your family. And finally is your relationship with the church. In
my priority list, my wife, Darlene, and our children have top place
over any church person or activity. Your ministry in the church and
community will only be as strong as your personal relationship with
God and your family.

Once you’ve established the top priorities, prioritize the
church-related programs, meetings, writing assignments, and
expectations that crowd your daily schedule.

Play. Take advantage of your day off and
vacation time. In the first several years of my ministry, I worked
eight days a week. My doctor once predicted I’d be a “fat, dead
pastor at the age of 40.” His prescription for me? Take off on my
day off. “If you have to, get out of town,” he said. So I did.

Even Jesus, the busiest itinerant preacher of his time, spent
time at rest. He went to quiet places away from the crowd for
refreshing. Jesus needed a Sabbath and so do you. Approach your day
off and vacation time as God-ordained rest periods. Rest in the
Lord and you’ll be more productive for the church and the kingdom
of God.

Pray. So often the confusion felt when you’re
pulled 1,000 different directions can be turned to peace through
prayer. Spend time in prayer. God wants to do the work of the
ministry through you. As you pray, you’ll receive a freshness of
spirit and vision. And remember, without a vision, the children’s
worker perishes. Daily communication with God will increase your
ability to handle the stress of daily administration.

Proceed. I was ready to quit one day. Workers
had dropped out, recruiting was a BIG problem, and Sunday was
coming. I called my friend Bob Hahn, who was a Christian education
pastor in another part of the country. After sharing my tale of woe
and expecting Bob to sympathize, I was surprised by his

Bob reprimanded me, “Dick, you need to remember that Jesus cared
about his children before you were their children’s pastor. He will
care about them long after you’re gone.”

Proceed bearing this truth in mind: The ministry belongs to
Jesus. He said, “On this rock I will build my church.” He didn’t
say, “On this rock you will build my church.” Spending every waking
hour doing ministry is not what Jesus has called you to do. He
wants you to participate with him to reach the children he loves
more than you can even imagine.

Probe. Probe or search for another view. Call a
friend. Bob helped me gain a proper perspective when my vision was
vanishing. Find a positive Christian friend who’s not afraid to
tell you the truth. Counsel, fellowship, and party with this
person. Pray for and with this person.

My first counselor and friend is my wife. In addition to talking
to her, I try ministerial friends like Bob. We all need a good
friend who’ll help us see problems from another angle.

What do you do when you’re pulled in 1,000 different directions?
Become Gak in the hands of God. Allow God to mold you through these
times, getting you in shape for ministry. Prioritize, play, pray,
proceed, and probe.

The dream is possible! You can be successful in ministry, know
your spouse and children, and stay true to the calling of God.

Dick Gruber is a children’s pastor, husband, and father of
four in Minnesota. Please keep in mind that phone numbers,
addresses, and prices are subject to change.

6 Great Getaways For Children’s Ministers

Several years ago I took my family on a real vacation. We flew
to Florida and enjoyed a week of fun and camping at a major theme
park and its adjoining campground. One day while sitting at our
picnic table, my then 15-year-old daughter said, “Thanks, Dad. This
is the first time I can remember that we went on a vacation that
wasn’t tied to your ministering someplace.”

This scene could happen to any of us. But it doesn’t have to.
Try these fun ideas to focus on your family.

  1. No Purchase Necessary — Go to a shopping mall
    or department store and try on all the clothes you wish you could
    afford. Take your time. Enjoy the experience of wearing expensive
    outfits only senior pastors can afford. Important note: Don’t buy a
  2. Tennis Anyone? — Find an outdoor sport you
    can enjoy with your family. We go sledding in the winter because it
    takes no athletic ability to ride a sled down a snowy hillside. In
    the summer, we play tennis. The racquets and balls don’t cost much,
    outdoor courts have no rental fee, and even my 5-year-old likes to
    hit the ball around.
  3. Zoomania — Buy a pass to a zoo. We’ve found
    this to be an excellent investment. The zoo is a great place to
    learn about God; we never tire of seeing the incredible variety of
    animals God has created. And in two or three visits, the cost of
    the pass is recovered.
  4. A Room With a View — Save money and spend one
    or two nights in a hotel or motel in a nearby community. I always
    look for a clean place with a scenic view and an indoor swimming
    pool. My kids love this.
  5. Star Light, Star Bright — Take your family
    out on a warm night and look at stars. Make sure it isn’t cloudy
    and that you’re well out of the city lights when stargazing. This
    doesn’t cost a thing and can be a lot of fun. Try to find
    constellations, shooting stars, and satellites.
  6. Picnic — There are wonderful city and state
    parks in or near every community. Grab your Frisbee, a blanket, a
    six-pack of soft drinks, and a bucket of chicken and drive to the
    park. Playground equipment, climbing trees, and good restrooms are
    prerequisites for a good time.

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