Last week, in an unprecedented move, we shifted the boys bible study group from Monday night to Sunday night. I, in an unusual situation, don’t work at all on the weekends unless we’re going away with the young people. I don’t do any paid employment on Sunday, I even get to attend the church that has ownership over the community centre I work for out of my own choice, not as part of my contract. Sunday for me, is a day off of work.
Which brings us to today’s subject; the magic time off that you’re supposed to take to keep yourself fresh and not burnt out. The logic goes something like that, as a youth minister you should take at least one entire day off a week where you don’t worry about the youth; other wise you’ll explode. You probably still will die unless you take two days off a week. And if you don’t switch your phone off you’ll have a heart attack right this minute.
Obviously, the root of this advice is pretty sound. Screw up how you work, and how you think about work and you’ll screw yourself up. This isn’t a good idea, and you should protect yourself from this. But some of it seems a bit misguided, and sometimes down-right sinful when you compare this to the advice of Jesus that says “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).
Here’s a thought, your ministry can only be done in the power of the Holy Spirit, therefore if you occasionally go “oh gosh, I can’t do this, I’m going to die”, then you’re probably doing it right. Or to put it the other way around; if your work is such that by taking regular days off and keeping track of your hours you can avoid all the pain and heartache of ministry, you’re definitely doing it wrong.
Now, that’s only a start point on how we, as youth ministers should go around balancing their hours, but it’s probably a fairly good place to start. Days off and time out won’t keep you sane and healthy in youth work, they can’t replace the Holy Spirit.