As I write this post, my wife just entered into her third trimester of pregnancy. In February, we will welcome another beautiful little girl into this world. I’m pumped, but I’m not naive either. We have a five year old, and life stays busy with one. So I’m pretty sure life is going to get crazy with two. I’m also a full-time youth pastor and seminary student. That means there are three roles in my life where I am a full-time something. Yes, my life is crazy busy, and it will only become even busier.
I’m sure there are many of you who are or will be like me, trying to manage their time effectively. If we’re not careful our families can be lost in all the craziness of ministry. Since our families are our families we tend to allow them to suffer the most, because the assumption is they are committed to us and they have to forgive us no matter what. We have to fight this.
Here are 4 things you can do to keep family first as a rookie Youth Pastor:
Keep a family calendar
My daughter is in pre-k and has reached the age where she can do every extracurricular activity known to man. My wife also works part-time and like I mentioned, I’m full-time everything. The only way we know what is happening is by keeping a family calendar. Every event we do is on that bad boy, and it is the only way for us to know when we need to pull back, or adjust our activities. If I have anything youth related, its on there. If my daughter has a game, its there. If my wife and I plan a date or family outing, it’s there.
Keeping a calendar with your entire life on it will keep your ministry from trampling on your family life, and making sure you’re where you need to be.
Put down the technology
This is hard for all of us, but it is a must. When I get home, my wife and I put our phones down in our room to keep us from looking down. We decided we want everyone in our family to know a conversation with them is more important than a game, text message, or phone call. This is hard, especially since my daughter watches “Littlest Pet Shop” and my IQ drops every time I watch that show. It would be easy to just play on my phone, but I want my daughter to know that spending time with her, watching her shows, is more important.
Unplug from the technology and plug into your family!
Focus on them on your day off
Even when we manage our time well, there will always be something else to do in youth ministry. Someone, somewhere, needs you, but guess what? Your family needs you more. When it’s your day off, plan to do something with them. Run errands with your spouse, go see a movie together, or plan a family date. This means you have be intentional about what you have to do so you’re not scratching your head trying to figure it out.
If we’re willing to put time and effort into planning events for our students, we need to be willing to do the same for our families.
Learn to say “no”
I’m just going to refer you to Doug Fields book “What Matters Most.” This little gem has saved me countless heartaches because I read it when I was 20 year old rookie youth pastor.
I will say, you have to learn how to effectively communicate your “no” standard. For example, I tell my parents and students openly that if they want me to go to an event, they need to give me a schedule and at least a week’s notice. If they don’t, they already know its an automatic no because my schedule is already filled, and I love my family more than their kids.
As a rookie youth pastor, one of the first things you need to do is to start creating appropriate boundaries for you and your family, or your future family. If you can do this now, you’ll save yourself a whole lot of grief down the road. To aid you in this process, check out the book “Boundaries” by Henry Could and John Townsend. This is an amazing book every minister needs to read and has truly made an impact on my family life and ministry!
If you are a veteran youth pastor, how have you kept your family first?
What boundary do you need to create in your ministry to love your family more?