Balancing Work, Ministry, and Life
By Brenda Yoder
When I first attended Speak Up, I also was starting graduate school for a new career in counseling. Up to that point, I had been a high school teacher along with raising four kids. I was exhausted. I thought ministry might be in my future, but I didn’t know what that looked like.
Since then, I’ve become a licensed therapist and school counselor. I work at a school and manage a small private practice. I have authored two books, contributed to several Guideposts and Chicken Soup for the Soul Books, speak nationally, and have fully-fledged three of our four children into adulthood. At times, I’m energized. Other times, I’m tired.
Many writers, speakers, or Christian leaders work full or part-time outside of ministry. We are also raising families, taking care of parents, and have other responsibilities. There’s an illusion that speaking and writing is glamourous and fun. Sometimes it is. But at times it’s also draining. What you communicate doesn’t come from thin air. Your words come from the depths of your soul.
So, how do you manage all of this? How do you juggle ministry, work, family life, and care for yourself? Here are three tips:
- Know your season of ministry, family life, and work. A wise Christian communicator recognizes the immediate responsibilities, both short and long term. Having a book under contract is an intense season both before and after the book is released. Let go of other responsibilities in your family or work life as much as possible during that time. If you’re raising kids, delegate responsibilities. Involve your family in the “baby” you are growing. Hire a marketing assistant. Don’t try to do everything alone.
Similarly, if your family is in an intense season, you may need to put off a writing or speaking goal so that you can be fully present where needed. In God’s economy, he’s the keeper of time. If he is calling you to be mom, grandma, or daughter during an important time, trust him with the pacing for goals and projects.
- Prioritize your personal devotions. Communicating as a writer or speaker comes from a place which must be tended and nurtured. Bible reading and prayer fills the well from which you draw when you serve others. That well mustn’t run dry. Personal devotions are different than studying Scripture to teach or write. You think about the needs of your target audience, not your own, when preparing a message.
Times of solicitude may also be helpful. Before or after a book launch, big project, or conference are great times to sneak away for a day or two. Get a hotel or Airbnb room to refresh and fill yourself up before you re-enter the next season of ministry.
- Let your yes be yes, and your no be no (Matthew 5:37). Prayerfully consider commitments. Just because you have an opportunity to do something doesn’t mean it’s best for you, or for the project itself. However, there times when a dream opportunity comes at an inopportune time. If you say “yes” because it’s God’s best for you, submit yourself to Christ to complete the work in His power, not yours.
A mentor of mine once said her life is full, but not too full. I’ve taken that on as my motto. I’m okay saying, “Yes!,” “No,” or “Not now.” As ministers of the gospel, we cannot pour living water from a well that’s gone dry.
Questions: What is your biggest pain point with balancing ministry, work, and life? How are you dealing with it?
Important Announcement: Brenda Yoder is one of our July 14-16, 2021 Speak Up Conference faculty members. From now through April 15, we’re offering an Early Bird Special on the registration fee for the conference. For information, click here.
If you’re in need of partial scholarship assistance, email Bonnie@speakupconference.com for an application.
If you’d like to “Pay It Forward” and give a tax-deductible donation to the scholarship fund, here’s the link.
Brenda’s bio: Brenda Yoder is a school counselor, therapist, speaker, and author of Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind and Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All. Her ministry and podcast Life Beyond the Picket Fence is at brendayoder.com where she writes about life, faith, and family beyond the storybook image.