Having trouble leaving the office at a decent hour?
Not taking a day or two off a week?
Finding yourself saying over and over again, “Sure I’m free”?
Most youth ministers struggle to work any kind of regular hours. If you don’t have the self discipline to set regular hours for yourself, then building in reasons why you cannot work overtime may help.
Some youth ministers have to clock out each day at 3:30 to go meet their 5 year old’s bus. Others may take a regular day off on Fridays because it coincides with their spouse’s day off. In some cases, single youth ministers, especially those who have moved for work or live away from friends and family, can have a very hard time walking away from the office. Why? Because let’s face it – where else are they gonna go?
So I’m offering you some guilt-free ideas to help you get up and out of the office:
Get a Pet:
Who doesn’t love coming home to a wagging tail and some unconditional love? You can look at your wonderful secretary and say, “Gotta go! Time to take my dog out!” Nothing like urine on your carpet to motivate you to leave the office on time. If getting your own pet isn’t an option think about becoming a pet sitter or dog walker. This can be a great source of side income, a little bit of extra exercise, and a great commitment to get you out of the office.
Day Trip Bucket List:
This is especially great if you moved to a new area for your job. Go online, ask around and make yourself a list of places you can visit that are within a two hour drive of your home. Don’t let money worry you. Look for museums, state and national parks, places of worship, libraries, historic sites, and farms. Better yet, make a list of people “with whom” you want to “share an adventure.” Communicate your bucket list with your friends and see who wants to go with you. Then put these day trips on your calendar. You’ll be much more motivated to turn in those bulletin announcements by Thursday if you know that Friday you have fun plans with a friend.
Stretch Your Brain and Your Body:
Learn something new! A great place to check out is your local library. Many offer FREE programs, book clubs, and game nights. Join a gym. If that’s not enough structure for you, sign up for an actual class: weight lifting, ballroom dancing, or Zumba. If cost is an issue, look online for a walking or jogging group. Sometimes area rec leagues offer 6-8 week classes at discounted rates.
Shop, Cook, Eat:
There is an art to eating and cooking real food! Take the time to find a recipe, shop for it, and cook it. Don’t let cooking for one discourage you. The trick is freezer meals. Find a new recipe each week. Grocery shop for it, cook it, eat it and then freeze the leftovers for a week later. This way you are forced to cook something fresh again for yourself the next day. When you have those long days at work you won’t need to hit the fast food joint. Instead you can pull out a homemade freezer meal and you are all set. Once you’ve mastered a couple of recipes then host a dinner party. You’re wallet and your health will thank you too.
Notice I didn’t say commit to a Holy Hour, volunteer at a soup kitchen or go to graduate school. All of those things are good. Sometimes we need to do things that are further removed from our work life. It allows us to encounter the community where we live as one of its people, not as one of its ministers. Go someplace where you are the student, you are the follower, you are not the expert!
Commit to something that involves a scheduled commitment from you. There needs to be some accountability or we will decide that redoing that flyer on Canva for the 100th time is more important than leaving work to head home to cook a meal. Let’s face it, you’ve got places to be, things to do, and people to meet that aren’t at your Parish. Your job is only one part of your life, not all of it.
Enjoy living your life now. There will always be a bulletin deadline or a sparkly new program to launch. The healthier life you lead, the more likely you will not just survive, but thrive in ministry. You will also be placing yourself on a path to become the person God created you to be. To God, you are so much more than a youth minister. Live like you know that to be true.