Youth ministry schedules can be hard on marriages and families. Not only are there a million youth events and programs to attend, but many youth pastors and their families are also expected to be involved in the everyday life of the church. Youth workers can easily find themselves far too busy and with spouses and children desperate for time and attention.
As with anything else in life, there’s no magic fix or specific formula for working out a healthy youth ministry schedule. But here are some general ideas to keep in mind when dealing with your ministry calendar.
- First, keep your spouse in the loop and value their opinion. The quality of your marriage is important and keeping that relationship a priority as you schedule programs will make your spouse feel like they don’t always take second place to the needs of the youth group. When planning your calendar, include your spouse in the conversation. There will always be non-negotiables in church schedules, but many things can be flexible as well. It’s important to take time to listen to your significant other if they feel things are too crowded or if they’d prefer a different date for an event or program. When your spouse feels listened to and they see you accommodate their wishes when possible, it strengthens your relationship and prevents resentment from festering.
- Second, keep an open dialogue with your supervisor or senior pastor. Having the support of those in authority over you is key to balancing work and family. Consult them when conflicts arise and discuss when your presence at church is a necessity and when it’s okay to spend time at home. If you find that those above you have an unhealthy view of church commitments, then perhaps it might be time to look for a new position. Sacrificing family for the sake of ministry is never healthy.
- Third, listen to your body. This might not sound as spiritual as we’re all used to, but our bodies are innately wired to let us know when we’re doing too much. If you or your spouse observe that, you’re constantly tired, disconnected, grumpy, or overly emotional, it might be necessary to cancel something, take an extra day off, or plan a vacation for yourself and your family. Staying in touch with your body is crucial to keeping your personal, relational, and ministry health on track.