Friday is my favorite day of the week, I have no classes and nothing but time to mark papers and catch up. However, as I write this I can feel my batteries start to wind down and I’m looking forward to Saturday – my day off.
Saturday is my day. I do (almost) anything that I want to and I switch off from the previous six days of work.
This leads me to ask you a very important question when it comes to doing effective youth ministry: you do have a day off don’t you?
It’s funny… in my 25+ years of ministry I have seen countless ministry minded people who don’t take a day off. They have given me various excuses why (“The Lord’s work is too important,” “I save my days up and take a week off.” etc.) It is as if they are superhuman (which they aren’t) or seem to miss the part in the Bible where God commands us to rest.
I remember one person I used to know quite well who “never took a day off… only sections during the week” (an afternoon here, a morning there etc.). When I asked him if he regularly broke any of the other commandments he simply gave me a glassy stare and said “I’ve never thought of it that way”. Funny thing, he left his ministry a year later due to “extreme burnout”.
Let me encourage you: when people ask me (as they often do) “How can you still be in youth ministry in your 50s?” I tell them this, “I take a day off every week, and I take weeks off every year. This helps to keep be centered, grounded, on my feet and any other metaphor you that is applicable.” In fact, one day a week I shut up shop, close the blinds, turn off the phone and regale myself in all the pleasures of a vacation wrapped up in twenty-four hours!
So, come tonight here is what I am going to do… pretty much anything I want to. When I wake up on Saturday my plan is simple, “What do I want to do today?” I will then proceed to do it. I’ll eat what I want, watch the movies and TV shows I want, sleep until I want and do as little or as much as I want.”
I will also: turn off my email, not visit my office, not take any ministry phone calls, not read any youth ministry texts and switch off my ministry brain!
I know what you’re thinking— this is tough to do. You bet it is. My mind has a million projects and things I want to write and do. And it is sooo tempting to just work a few hours that afternoon just to ‘get ahead’. But you know what? When I’ve done this (or when I have a conference that I’ve attended/spoken at on a Saturday), I’m in rugged shape for the next week. My productivity goes down, my brain is foggy, and my writing and teaching skills are lessened. No matter how hard I try, I’m not as good on Monday if I’ve worked on Saturday.
So, that is what I offer you this week. If you want to be as effective as you can for the King, take his ‘advice’ (ahem, COMMAND) and kick back for a day this week.
I’m off now… (what you’re hearing is the sound of the light switch being flicked, my computer powering down, my feet merrily hitting the pavement and my day off joyfully approaching!)