The importance of maintaining self-care in ministry cannot be overstated. It certainly faces numerous challenges and battles. Some are internal challenges, from our own thoughts and actions. Others are external challenges, due to the impact of situations or people outside of our control. To last as a leader is to develop systems and habits that ensure we sustain ourselves, and therefore our leadership influence, for a long time.
There are many, many suggestions that could be included on any list, but one thing is clear – the importance of self care in ministry cannot be underestimated. Here are three thoughts to consider to help you:
1. Manage your energy, and not just your time
Time management is a thing, and there are key skills around prioritisation, delegation and scheduling that can help. But on its own, this assumes we are like machines with the same level of passion, drive, and energy every hour of every day. I don’t know about you, but some days I have more ‘get up and go’. Some mornings I’m ready to take on the world, whilst others I might as well be in bed for all the use I’m being.
The reality is that we all have our own rhythms – daily, weekly, and monthly as examples. Our season of life impacts our rhythm as does our physiology, sleep, diet, mental health and numerous other areas. Sometimes, managing our energy means sleeping better, eating better and moving more. Other times, it is more challenging because of emotional responses to events in our lives.
Bottom line – study yourself to learn your rhythm, and when you work best. Maybe it’s mornings, afternoons, evenings or nights. Perhaps changes need to be made to aspects of your lifestyle to maximise your energy. But don’t manage your time without considering your energy. More can be done in an hour when energetic than can be done in half a day when off the pace.
Bottom line – it’s important to pace yourself if you want to self-care well in the work of ministry.
2. Learn when – and how – to say ‘no’
Not many people enjoy saying no to people. We all like to be liked, and doing someone a favour helps us feel likeable. We may even want to impress a certain individual. That’s all understandable.
The reality is that there are things only we can do, things only we should do, things only others can do, and things only others should do. This graphic can help us identify what requests, opportunities, meetings or tasks to say yes to, and what to say no to.
Consider your ability levels, and your responsibilities, and use the below chart to work out priorities:
Remember, if we say yes to something, we are saying no to something else!
Bottom line – it’s important to protect your workload if you want to self-care well in the work of ministry.
3. Schedule Important But Not Urgent Meetings
You know the type of meetings; those that aren’t crisis management or firefighting. Those not connected to a loud voice, big problem or financial loss. I’m talking about the meetings and conversations we all know ultimately shape our success, but don’t scream for our attention. But we need to prioritise them because they sharpen our leadership and help increase our longevity.
I’m talking about meetings like:
- Role evaluations and performance reviews of team members.
- Strategic goals review, to see what progress is or isn’t being made, and why.
- Planning and forecasting, to determine what should be done next.
- Examining tension to see what, if anything, needs to be adjusted.
These key meetings are growth engines, no matter what type of organisation you lead. Scheduling these will help you automatically prioritise what is important and not just what is urgent.
Bottom line – it’s important to manage meetings if you want to self-care well in the work of ministry.
These three suggestions will help increase leadership longevity, which in turn maximises our impact and influence, and helps us in the important business of self-care in ministry.