Balancing the many demands of life can be tricky. It’s easy to say our top priorities are God, family, friendships, health, and so on, but what do our calendars say? Are we easily distracted with items that are less important? Do we feel on call 24/7? When we receive a text or email notification, do we put conversations with our families on hold because something may be “urgent”?
The ministry reality is that there are few actual crisis situations where someone’s physical, emotional, or spiritual well-being demands an immediate response from us. Yes, crises do happen, but many times there are those we serve who are perpetually needy and believe they are in crisis. Clearly communicating your availability and scheduling specific times to counsel with these individuals is key.
In considering our actual priorities and day-to-day responsibilities, here are a few tips to help us keep first things first:
- Quiet time. Spending quality time in prayer and reading the Bible each day refuels us to joyfully serve family, friends, church, and community without feeling spiritually drained or expecting anything in return. Quiet time can be better protected by anticipating distractions and addressing those ahead of time.
- Romance. For those who are married, loving our husbands well is critical for a healthy home life. Our most important human relationships are the easiest to take advantage of or ignore. When our marriages are healthy, we are emotionally free to minister and our husbands become amazing supporters! Intentionally scheduling date nights with our husbands can bring excitement and anticipation. Attending local events or occasionally double-dating with close friends keeps things fresh. If going out isn’t an option, scheduling nights at home can be just as romantic—especially when they include candlelit bubble baths, playing games, reading together, going for walks, or relaxing on the patio with favorite appetizers or desserts.
- Family time. If you’re a parent, it’s your responsibility to invest in the hearts of your children by relaxing together, discussing casual events of the day, tackling housework as a team, and engaging in fun activities. Family dinners are perfect for discussing daily devotionals or age-appropriate items in the news. Designating one night a week for electronics-free “Family Fun Time” often means saying no to activities that may draw family members away from home. No one else will protect your family’s time together—it’s up to you. Taking time to play games, take walks, cook together (or learn to cook), or visiting a local yogurt shop will result in family bonds and delightful memories that will last long after your season of leadership ends.
- Rest. Rest is needed for our health and it’s even part of God’s plan for our lives. Intentionally resting can be challenging at first, especially for us go-getters. But it can be as simple as picking a day such as a Saturday or Sunday and saying “yes” to activities that bring refreshment, joy, and peace. These could be things like catching up on photo books, reading, or relaxing with friends or family. It also means saying “no” to responsibilities that aren’t urgent and can be scheduled for other days—like paying bills, doing laundry, or extra housecleaning projects. Rest is never an excuse for neglect of necessary responsibilities but with careful planning, rest can become a part of a healthy routine.
- Ministry. Scheduling ministry time after the top priorities of quiet time, husband, family, and rest doesn’t mean that we aren’t prioritizing God. It means we’re best stewarding our relationships, family, time, and health so that we can serve God with a right heart, happy family, and healthy body. Communicating clear availability to our teams and church leaders allows for breathing space and flexibility in our schedules. Unless we are paid staff or asked to work specific hours, we can own our ministry calendars while being flexible to the needs of our team and those we serve.
Because life is always changing, our schedules can be sanity savers, helping us protect our priorities. However, we must pray for discernment and flexibility to know when we need to switch things up and edit our schedules! Grace, flexibility, and tenacity are all key in keeping first things first!
Melinda Adair serves as the Ladies’ Ministry Team Leader at Kennewick Baptist Church in Washington and assists her husband, Cliff, in the youth department. She homeschools two of her three sons, blogs, and loves networking with other leaders.