10 gentle reminders for every youth minister to help look after themselves.

Over the last few weeks i have been re-reading and thinking about the notion of ‘Self care’ in Youth work and Ministry, revisiting some of Stephen Coveys work on effective leadership, other resources and also hearing from stories of ministry. The reason that ive been thinking about it is because Ive been asked to deliver a personal development module, in collaboration with others for a group of students on a gap year programme over the course of the year (see Equip NE above). During the course of yesterday delivering the course, and overnight i have been reminded of a number of key tenets to help in ministry, and thought it would be worth passing some of them on.

  1. You are more important than your work or ministry
  2. A healthy ministry is not about numbers, its about depth of relationships
  3. Work on building capacity in others, and value the few, even if it is a few.
  4. Not having the youth activity/club/group for one week to focus on you, your staff development is a good use of time.
  5. Find a hobby or a list of things you like doing and do at least one a week.
  6. Even if you’re the youthworker – you can still say no – manage the expectations of time people have of you.
  7. Protect your time, and your time off
  8. Find key people to help you with the four key aspects of your life – emotional (friends), mental (supervisor/someone who inspires you), Physical (a friend who takes you to the gym!), spiritual (pastoral/theological support person) – in addition develop ways that all of these things are sharpened every now and then – because often in ministry they can drain at times too.
  9. Ditch all the off the shelf or ministries from ‘successful people in ministry’ – the best resources you have are the people who you have. Ditch the blueprints! – work with the reality and whats appropriate for you.
  10. Setting boundaries for yourself also protects other people.

These are just what I’ve read, heard or reflected on over the last 48 hours or so. I am in now way trying to say i do these things, in fact saying no to interesting and challenging tasks is a huge problem for me, as is managing my time. But I thought it would be unfair not to share these things in case, you like me, need to be reminded of them from now and again, so that you can if you want to last the long haul and last still in one piece.

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