The Middle Years Ministry

THE MIDDLE YEARS MINISTRY is a Site Dedicated to Providing Resources, Ideas, and Help to Next Generation Pastors, Leader, Directors, Teachers, Mentors. Our goal is to MEET YOU in the MIDDLE in the Middle Years
, the Pivotal 5th-9th Grade Years. The middle ground between children’s ministry and high school ministry. The age where 85% of people make their final life-long faith decisions.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Five Practical Ways to Balance Family & Ministry (Jeff Beckley)

Did I miss something?  When did stacking rocks become an art form?  Apparently, “rock balancing” has become somewhat of a phenomenon.  In fact, there is even a Rock Stacking World Championship held in Llano, Texas.  Rock balancing is just as it sounds.  You take a rock and you balance it on another rock.  We have graduated from pet rocks, and are now using rocks for art.  
Just like in rock stacking, the key in ministry life is balance.  But for those in ministry, it is easier said than done. The hours can often overflow into the evening and into the weekend.  Still young in the pastorate, I’ve learned lessons the hard way, and am still learning ways of balancing my precious young family with the ministry that I cherish.  And, it is a question that I often ask veterans in ministry, who seem to have a great handle on balancing family and ministry.  
So, here are just a few practical ideas that I’ve heard from my mentors...
  • Take Them With YouThis may be the advice I’ve heard the most from ministry veterans. And it is to take your family, especially your kids, with you while you do ministry. Take your kid with you to a hospital visit, allow your wife to participate in counseling when appropriate, and let your teens enjoy your kids and not see them as a hindrance. Here’s another key: Teach your kids that being in ministry has benefits too. Although daddy may have late nights, they also have a day off during the week, can take them to conferences at hotels with pools, and of course leftover pizza. Show your family ministry is a blessing, not a burden.
  • Go On DatesMake dating your wife a priority in your life. Put it in your schedule on a regular basis. Plan ahead for babysitting and other arrangements that need to be made. But don’t stop there; take your kids on “dates” too. Take this time to teach your daughters what a gentleman does on a date.  Teach your boys how to eat their food with a fork (my boys are still young). Learn about your kids and be willing to invest time in their “likes”.  I want to spend special time with my kids, get to know them more personally, and let them know I value time with them. But this too takes planning and intentional work.
  • Take Your Creativity Home. One of my mentors laid this dagger into my heart. He asked me the question “Is your time with your kids at home as creative as your activities with your teens/children ministries?” OUCH! That one hurt. So, in the months after, I’ve tried my best to be more creative in my time with my kids. This means I’ve set up obstacle courses in the basement, taken advertisement magazines out of the mail and put together “favorite things” craft projects, and even did a neighborhood soccer camp (I had 8 little girls from the neighborhood in my backyard!).
  • Drop Your Work Off at UDF. Another friend told me to drop off your ministry at a place on your way home. Simply pray to God and ask Him to take the burden of ministry, put the criticism, the challenges, and the difficult counseling appointment at the feet of Jesus. Sure, those things will still affect you, but your kids and wife still need your best when you get home. So, my goal is to drop off the struggles of ministry at the UDF (on the way home.  And as you park your car at your home, take a moment to take a deep breath.  Give yourself a motivational speech to serve your family (Neighbors may wonder why you are passionately screaming at yourself in your car, but they probably already know you’re weird).  Pray for strength to give of yourself to your family.  Especially those with young families, don’t expect an IBC root beer, ball game on, recliner & feet up type of a night. Instead, go into the home ready to serve.  
  • Your Phone Can Be Your EnemyPut your phone down. One pastor mentor of mine said he does not come into the house on the phone, but will either pull over or stay in the garage to finish the call. Other ideas given are to take the phone out of the pocket and place it on the coffee maker or dresser. This will allow you to hear it for emergencies, but you won’t be tempted to check out your notifications when someone liked your picture of your cat playing the piano.
Balancing family and ministry can be difficult.  But remember this one phrase that I heard multiple times in my pre-marital counseling – “Your family is your number one parish”.  If you neglect your family, you are neglecting your number one ministry.  And if your family falls apart, your ministry will be soon to follow.  You can do it.  With much prayer, planning, and preparation…you can better “stack” your family and ministry without it falling. 
Jeff Beckley serves as the Youth & Family Pastor in Columbus, Ohio. Jeff has been serving in youth ministry for over a decade. He and his wife, Shannon, have 4 children. Jeff enjoys writing, and over the years has written youth curriculum and Christian magazine articles. He recently released his first book, a teen and young adult devotional called Bottom Line DevotionalThe website for the book is 

His blog serves as a tool and resource for youth ministries across the globe.

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