Within the first few weeks of my first full-time ministry job, I heard a comment that I have kept with me and shared countless times: ?If you strive for everyday balance here, you will burn out quickly. But if you are able to identify and embrace the differences between busy and slower seasons in what we do, you?ll last a long time.?
So over the last five years, I?ve found the following practices help re-charge me, no matter which season I find myself*:
*These practices are most replicable when they are embraced and encouraged by your whole team, but even if you are not your team?s leader, I would urge you to introduce/try them yourself. Lead up if you must!
1. Look at your work in seasons.
Want a guaranteed way to feel immediately overwhelmed? Think about every single thing that you have to do in the next year. If that doesn?t fill you with dread, shame, or fear, yay for you! For the rest of us, it will be incredibly beneficial to you and your team if you are able to identify what your priorities need to be for a shorter length of time. For extra credit, share with your team or just determine for yourself what type of season you are in, so that when it?s a crazy, busy, full, even overwhelming time, your teammates can encourage you or possibly even re-structure your workload to make it more manageable.[quote]Want to feel immediately overwhelmed? Think about every single thing that you have to do in the next year.[/quote]
2. Identify a clear finish line.
I?ve become a tad obsessed with asking what my team?s finish line is. Sometimes it feels obvious: once all our Christmas or Easter services are over that?s a clear signal we?ve crossed a finish line. But the rest of the year can just kind of pass us by, until it just rolls into a big pile of past projects that we don?t even remember working on. When you have a clear finish line, you create your own light at the end of the tunnel, even if it?s just arbitrary. But it?s there to keep you focused and to help you keep your pace. When you near its end, it?s easier to push yourself because you know soon you will be done and that it will be time to…[quote]When you have a clear finish line, you create your own light at the end of the tunnel, even if it?s just arbitrary.[/quote]
This is so critical (and should hopefully be really fun). It builds your team camaraderie and reminds everyone that what you all are doing with your work is worth slowing down to celebrate. When my creative team crosses a finish line, we go out for coffee or lunch or dessert, and we cheers to finishing. We will get to the debrief, to the what we should always do and what was hard and worth noting we never want to experience again. But not yet. For this time we celebrate what each person brought and share favorite memories or new inside jokes. We reflect on how the nothing became something because we used our gifts to make it happen.
This one is so tempting to skip. You probably wear many hats and feel like if you take even one off and take a break, things could fall apart. They might. But they probably won?t.?This July our whole staff got the first week of the month off. It was such a gift to not even be tempted to work since I knew if I emailed or tried to get work done, it would be like breaking some sort of vacation honoring code with my team. Normally when I take time off, I?m still on, still available in case people ?really need me?. But this week off reminded me that this tendency just leaves me feeling dissatisfied with my time off and like I?m letting my team down. Basically lose lose. So I?m trying to tuck this learning away and remind not only myself, but also my teammates, that when we honor each other?s time away ?even when it?s hard ? we all win.