When I started my new youth ministry job in 2000, I got a bit of a reputation.
I was a work-a-holic.
No one ever worried whether or not I would get the job done–I showed them right away that I would work, work hard, and work however much it took.
And honestly? In the beginning, it did take a lot. I was building a youth and children’s ministry for a church that had spent a couple of years in a slow period as far as these things went. Plus, I was single and had lots of new ideas and enthusiasm.
The next eight years and the remainder of my twenties were spent as a work-a-holic. I got married and became a parent and learned how to balance better, but I had a reputation to keep up so I did. I would worry about what would happen if I canceled youth group because I was sick. I would worry about going in late to the office because the car needed an oil change or because the child needed someone to be with him.
The church supported this. I was rewarded with pats on the back and praise for my hard work. When we went through turbulent periods of transition, they reminded me how important I was and how much they needed me and how grateful they were that I was there.
All the while, my husband would remind me: “You’re not THAT important. They’ll be fine.”
I shared that with a church friend one time and she was appalled–how could Jason say I wasn’t that important? But she was hearing his words out of context. And he was was saying what I needed to hear–I’m not holding Jesus’ church together. The church can make it for awhile without me. If I get sick and cancel youth group, the parents will be grateful and the kids will get over it before “The Amazing Race” starts that night at 7.
When our new minister (not so new these days) came to the church, he started saying something to me that I needed to hear from within the church: “Your family and your spiritual well-being are the most important things.”
With that, as well as the start of my thirties, a new philosophy started to take shape.
When I need a break, I take a break. When I don’t need to be at work, I’m not at work. When my family has something happening and it conflicts with a church activity, if there’s any chance the family activity is more important, I find someone to cover for me at church.
And you know what? The job still gets done! And I’m a lot happier and healthier for sure.