If you are having a fantastic holiday and so is everyone you know, fantastic.  That’s wonderful. But this blog may not be relevant for ya, at least not this year. I would like to have a word with those of you who may NOT be having a great holiday season right now….

Seven years ago, Christmas Day- As my little 2 year old daughter began opening her third gift, I heard my phone ring. I was confused at first seeing that my phone wasn’t on; THEN I saw it was the on call phone. I picked up the phone and answered.  On the other line I heard the tired voice of an older man.  He asked me, “I want you to give me one good reason not to end it all right here and now.”  Hey family, I need to go outside for a bit. I need to take this.

You have probably heard it said that the Holidays are the hardest time of year for some people. When I was younger I never knew how true that was. Coming on staff at a large church, I thought the reason none of the staff wanted to be on call during the holidays was purely due to family obligations. But having holiday time with the family was only PART of the reason that the pastoral staff did not relish being on call for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years. My first year, as the newbie on staff, I was on call during Christmas Day. It really changes your whole perspective on the holidays talking to people who are suicidal on Christmas. And your eyes are opened to the very large number people all around us who are hurting at the “happiest” time of the year.

Perhaps we are not as aware of this sadness in the church, because we have created a culture that says, “If you are really a good Christian, you will be happy all the time.  You will live in victory daily.”  This causes many Christians to hide their very real feelings, and the fact that they need a friend, because they are pretending to be “happy”. And some of these Christians wonder, “Is there something wrong with me, because I am not happy right now? Would other Christians understand or even be able to help?” We live in a broken, fallen world. The church and our American culture have created this artificial reality- that we are immune to heartbreak if we do the “right” things.  We can stay young, wealthy, have all we want and need.  As the poet aptly said, “Childhood is the Kingdom where nobody dies.” -Edna St. Vincent Millay. When you grow up, you begin to see, on planet earth bad things happen to ALL people, good, bad…etc. And if we will be honest, that is exactly what the Bible says- and what Jesus told us would happen: “In this world you WILL have trouble….they will persecute you and throw you out of synagogues for My Name’s sake….some of you will be delivered over to death…but the end is not yet etc etc etc” I do not believe Bible stories are just “stories”.  The accounts of certain lives are there for a reason! EVERY single one of the heroes and patriarchs of the Bible went through terrible times. And we are not exempt. We weren’t promised to be happy all the time.

I have two separate friends who lost their moms this year.  Another good friend lost a baby. One needs major heart surgery for herself, and she has 2 small children at home. I know they are going into the holidays uncertain.

I remember at least one holiday season that was  the worst time of my life.  I ended up curled up over the steering wheel of my car, listening to the sleet pelting the roof, outside of Lowe’s, crying my eyes out.  I knew I had to go home and make Christmas as wonderful as possible for my two young children.  But I remember thinking to myself, “Is this really Christmas for us this year??? This isn’t supposed to be how it is! Wait, where is the ‘holiday magic’ that somehow swoops in and makes this all ok?”

So if we know that the holidays are harder for us (even Christians) sometimes, then what can we do to get through the holidays on a difficult year? What can we do to help those in our lives who are struggling this season? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Know that you are not “bad” or “abnormal” to feel down at times during the holidays.  It is perfectly normal to be reminded of a loss at important events. It is normal to feel down, stressed and even blah. The thought of being on a huge emotional high through the whole holiday season is an unreasonable and unrealistic expectation for anyone.

2. You are not alone.  A lot of people have major lows during the holidays.

3. It is ok to go talk to someone and get help.  You owe it to yourself and your family to be honest and take care of YOU. That doesn’t make you less of a Christian, a strong person or a parent.

4. It is ok to have some happiness during the holidays even if you have had a major loss. Some people feel very guilty if they feel happy during the holidays if they have lost someone. It’s ok to laugh and have fun too…there’s no rule book for how you have to feel.  And more than likely the person or people you are missing would love to see you smile too.

5. Create some new traditions.  It is great to keep up old traditions. But one thing that is very healing after a loss is to incorporate a new tradition or two.  A tradition to remember the good that was, and a tradition to look forward to the good that will be. Which brings us to:

6. Remember that there WILL be better seasons to come. Everything in this life comes in seasons. In the middle of a tough holiday season, it is easy to think, “This is how things will be from now on. It will always be this way.”  But a good friend once told me, “There is life out there beyond this. And no it’s not the same as before.  But it’s a good good life.”  I hung on to that during a dark time, and it proved to be so true.  Life will continue to change; but good IS coming.  God’s Word promises us that God’s plans for us are GOOD.  And that “all things work together for GOOD for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

7. Last but not least: Make a list of all you are thankful for. Now before you shriek, “Wait? You want me to be THANKFUL after the year I’ve had?” remember that pain can blind us to everything that is still good in our lives. Remember the story in the Bible about the widow and her two mites? Jesus said she gave more than anyone else because she gave all she had.  Perhaps the one who is sad on Thanksgiving, but who stops to thank God for all the good still in their life, is so very precious to God, because it probably takes everything they have. “In EVERYTHING give thanks, for this is the will of God.” It is easy for someone in a good year to be thankful; but if you’ve had a rough year, your thanks and praise are much more of a sacrifice.  And I have found that stopping to thank God, when there seems to be nothing going right, is when I seem to feel Him here, and sense His working the most.

Are you having a wonderful, fun filled Thanksgiving and Holiday Season? Fantastic! That’s great. Are this year’s festivities particularly difficult? I am wishing to send you a great big hug right now through my laptop and say, “you are loved, and good IS on the way”. God bless you this Thanksgiving and Christmas and all through this next year- whether a good or a bad year- may you feel Him with you, working in your life. Love Trisha

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Here is a great parent, child activity to help teach gratitude in an increasingly ungrateful world.

 I don’t know about you, but this year was a rollercoaster at times of highs and bitter lows. And it can become easy, to focus on the negative, or to take all the good in our lives for granted- to not realize the beauty in our lives until it’s gone.  Our American culture at times pushes us to be entitled, without even realizing it.  So this November, I announced to our family, that we were going to cover a wall in our living room with butcher paper, and every single day before bed, we would write at least one thing we are thankful for. I got a box of brightly colored markers and we set up the large wall of paper.  At first I got a few lame excuses, “oh mom, I don’t know what to write…..this is so different”  But even after the first night, everyone has been having fun with it. And the best part? We all have to walk past that wall so many times a day, and just seeing it, reminds us all how amazing God is. And I love seeing my kids stop to read everything on the wall before we thank God at the end of the night. That visible reminder of God’s goodness changes your view of everything else that day…..God tells us in His Word to be thankful, and grateful, no matter the circumstances. We are to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” in our homes, and we as parents lead the way. What has God done for you and your family this year? This is the perfect week to stop, remember and say, “Thank You Lord”.

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Long gone are the days of “lone ranger” ministry- of one minister charging in, doing it “all” while everyone else follows. Today your ministry will literally rise or fall based on your ability to build and lead a strong team.  Ministering to your TEAM should be one of your number 1 ministry goals this year. So how do you build a stronger, more unified team in 2015? The teams I have led, and been on over the years have become more of a family, and I am so blessed to be a part of them. Whether you’re leading a team of volunteers, volunteer department heads, paid staff or all of the above, these ideas you’ll see below have worked for me and other ministry leaders, to build a winning team.

1. Pray together- There is power in praying all together with one purpose.  Pray FOR each other as well. It is a lot tougher to stay angry with someone, when your hand is on their shoulder in prayer for their upcoming surgery. This time spent in prayer together should not be “optional” or an afterthought. I cut 15 minutes of every outreach practice time just so we could spend that time in prayer together.  It changed EVERYTHING- attitudes, effectiveness of “performances”, and our focus on the unchurched people who attended.  Praying as one team can bond us in a way that nothing else can. I appreciate teams that begin and end all of their gatherings with prayer.

2. Grow together- Have you ever gone to a conference by yourself? You have this AMAZING experience, epiphanies that change your life! And then you come back to your church and try to explain those moments, those feelings to your team? It’s almost impossible isn’t it? The old saying is all too true, “You just had to be there.” Everything changes when the team returns together from a training/conference with a more unified vision, and everyone at the table “gets the inside jokes” and has the same memories of the event.  You do not have to get them all excited or try to explain the experience, because they went through it with you.  Other ways to grow together would include doing a book study or a Bible study together- we have had a LOT of fun bonding over our book/Bible studies! You can also find inexpensive local trainings to attend as a group or hire a speaker to come in and do a training for your team. A great newer option would be to do a live streaming training or conference and watch it all together at your church (or a neighboring church).

3. Serve together- Nothing, and I do mean nothing, seems to bond a team like working long hours on a major project. When you have a community outreach, vbs, service project, musical, Easter or Christmas function, it is good to have “all hands on deck” and give every member of the team a “job”. This laser focus- everyone pulling together in the same direction- everyone going for the same win, can show the “real side” of the people you minister with, the good, bad and the ugly.  We get to know each other for REAL, and still love and appreciate your team for all of their unique giftings. We experience first hand the power of working as a group toward a common goal.  This usually attracts new team members as well who want to be a part of something that is succeeding and so rewarding (Great teams are the best recruiters).

4. Dream Together- Is your “team” still a hierarchy of “I say and you do and don’t ask why?” Much better is the model “Let’s do this together, and I’ll help you until you can teach it yourself.” When you sit down to plan your calendar of events for the next year (which I really hope you are doing), who is sitting around that table? By that I mean, who has input in the planning of events and the pitching of new ideas? This can be scary to some leaders, and it definitely takes a lot of trust.  But great ideas often come from diverse teams, even quiet, introverted team members. Perhaps your team members have been doing a lot of thinking and just need the chance to let those ideas out. They’ll think of great innovations and solutions that you never could on your own. It’s about letting go some of that need to control for the greater good of the people you minister to. Make it a safe place to express ideas, and even constructive criticism. But never allow pouting, grudge holding, or gossip. You can reserve the right to the final say, and you can always shut down negative or argumentative talk.  But allowing a few more people at that planning table will not only uncork amazing creative conversations, but when you actually DO begin to implement your new ideas, you will have your teams buy-in and eager support, BECAUSE they had some say.  BUY-IN always comes from IN-PUT. 🙂

5. Play together- It’s official; teams that play together, stay together. If the only time you contact your team is when you want something from them (work related), they may start to feel used; they may also dread it when they see you coming (just more work to do). Don’t just see people for what they have to offer you and “your” ministry.  These are people, with lives and joys and hopes and jobs and families. Go to their sports games and cheer them on. Go as a team and do something fun- bowling, roller blading, boat ride, mini golf, a concert etc. I also highly suggest that you eat together.  Sharing meals together has been known as a bonding activity throughout history.  Go out to eat together as a team after services.  Better yet, go to each other’s HOMES and COOK together. Being a team means caring about people’s lives OUTSIDE of the job you are trying to do together. If their child is sick, pray together for that child. If one of your team is in the hospital, go visit them together. As they say at Willow Creek, you are not just doing a job together, you are “doing life together.” You are building relationships to last for the long haul.  These relationships give birth to the best, most successful ministries you will ever know.

What kind of team are you dreaming of? The best things in this life don’t just “happen”; they are intentionally planned and crafted. Put the majority of your time into growing a unified, effective team this year, and you’ll be surprised how far you’ll GROW.  How do you disciple and pour into your ministry teams? (board, parent teams, teachers, volunteers, staff etc.)? Please let us know your best ideas for team building!

PS: I’d love to pray with you or sign a book for you. You can get a copy of “Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch” TODAY on Amazon, Kindle. Already have your book? Please make sure to rate it on Amazon- I read each and every review.  God bless!


 Last week’s blog about how much harder your job is as a Children’s/family minister, was pretty highly trafficked! You all seemed to find some commonality with hard working kids leaders around the world! Here is part 2. Thoughts?

6. You’ll have to navigate “Separate Orbit Syndrome.” This happens when you start to feel disconnected from the adult church service or from the church in general. This happens because children’s ministry is sometimes the ONLY ministry that takes place DURING the adult main service. Other ministries break out during the week or serve IN the main service. Children’s ministry can start to have its own orbit. You have to fight the children’s ministry becoming its own “silo.” It is a lot of work to keep it connected to what is going on in the church at large. I realized one day in our staff meeting that in a room packed out with staff, I was the ONLY one who had not been in the main service, and I was also the only one who knew what had happened that week in the kid’s services. The kid’s leader has to be very vocal about what is happening in the kid’s areas. The rest of the church may not know, because they weren’t there. Your hardships, your huge wins- you have to get very good at making sure these are heard. Kind of like a moon, orbiting the earth….”Houston, we have a problem….”

7. And you’ll run a higher risk of burnout. Children’s ministry tends to run non-stop. School year, summer, holidays, weekend, midweek. And too many children’s leaders report NEVER being in an adult service. They do not ever sit with their families in a worship service. They do not get to attend a Bible study. And this can be extremely wearing on even the strongest Christian. We’ve always had 3-5 services to plan every single week for kid’s ministry as opposed to student ministries’ 1 (they are adding another one). You will have to work harder perhaps, than other staff members to make sure you make it to a church service. I know how difficult that can be. I make it to one at least once a month (wearing my pager!), and I attend a morning Bible study during the week. You MUST invest in yourself and your relationship with God or you will soon have nothing left to give!

8. Underappreciated, underrated ministry- Even though you have one of, if not THE TOUGHEST jobs in the church, you may feel invisible. You may feel that no one understands or appreciates what you do. Many times Children’s Ministry is still viewed as babysitting or women’s work or a stepping stone. I remember hearing in bible college, “Someday God may move you up”. I always felt this was top of the ladder for me! 

I hope you read part 1…what did I miss? Why is your job so tough sometimes?? Let me just say that I love you guys and you are not alone. There are many of us! Jesus sees all you do for him and His kids. Please keep on fighting today and always! Love Trisha

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No it’s not all in your head. Your job as a children’s ministries staff person/volunteer is one of, if not THE toughest job in your church. Why? Here are a few of the key reasons that you have such a difficult (yet rewarding) ministry:

1.No area of the church is as prone to explosive conflict as the children’s area. Very nice people can become UNNICE rather quickly when their children are involved. Any program that works with people’s kids will encounter intense conflicts from time to time. On top of that several articles have been written recently about the problem of parent bullying of teachers. Unfortunately, that bullying can extend itself into your ministry- parents/guardians bullying you and your leaders in order to get their way (a part in a play for their child, special rules just for their child, a certain prize for their child, an ending of consequences etc. etc.) These conflicts tend to involve a lot of emotions and may become quite personal. The sheer number of these conflicts can be wearing on a kid’s ministry leader.

2. The legalities involved are mind-boggling. In the past decade, liability insurance for churches has skyrocketed. This massive insurance premium increase has resulted in changes in the way that some churches do ministry- some have stopped doing camp outs, some have stopped offsite activities, others have discontinued their 15 passenger van services (because their insurance will no longer cover them). Every single thing that we do in children’s ministry must be scrutinized for its possible liability issues. The public schools deal with this as well. If a child falls on church property, or is injured by faulty equipment, the chances are MUCH higher of their being a lawsuit against the church than if the injury happened to an adult. And let’s just face it- kids get hurt. Toddlers fall down. Kids get hurt playing games, running and horseplaying. We cannot prevent all injuries, but we can do due diligence to minimize injuries on our property. If something goes to court, the question will be asked, “Did you and your staff do everything REASONABLE to prevent this from happening?” Bottom line: the vast majority of your church’s liablity and potential lawsuits come from your children’s ministry department.

3. Medical issues in children’s ministry have changed. This goes hand in hand with #2. We do not have room here to debate why the cases of food allergies (including peanuts) and cases of autism and childhood depression, among other disorders, have increased exponentially in the past several years.  Most of these medical issues will affect the children’s department the most. At our church, 8 out of every 10 medical issues happen in the kid’s ministry area (a fall, a bite in the nursery, an allergy reaction, an emotional meltdown). One Sunday morning, I got a call that a 7 year old child was down, struggling to breathe, because another child came into class that had just eaten a peanut butter sandwhich at home. She had a severe peanut allergy reaction just from the boy’s breath. Thankfully her mother taught for us and was nearby with an epipen. These are issues we face much more often in kid’s ministry than in the adult service.

4. Recruiting is so MUCH MORE difficult for the kid’s ministry leader than for ANY OTHER area in your church. Why? A. Due to the above issues, you MUST maintain proper ratios. Depending on your state recommended guidelines and/or your church’s guidelines, you may need to have 1 leader per 2-3 kids in the infant room, 1 per 4-5 in toddlers, 1 per 6-8 in pre-K, 1 per 8-12 in elementary. Adults do not have to worry about these ratios. Student ministries do not need quite as high ratios. B. You CANNOT put just anyone serving in kid’s ministry. Many people in your church will not qualify. You cannot use anyone with a history of child abuse, or anyone with a bad temper etc. Not everyone has a temperament that will work well in kid’s ministry. C. Your onboarding requirements will be MUCH tougher for a new volunteer. They must be fingerprinted, background checked, trained and more. Your kid’s ministry SHOULD have the toughest guidelines to serve in the church. Not everyone will qualify, or even stick around for the longer onboarding process. *SEE HOLIDAY SCHEDULING

5. You will have a lot of administrative duties. Many new children’s leaders are not prepared for the level of administrative work they will need to do. You have to organize the recruiting, training and onboarding of new leaders continually. You need to create the schedules for each class, make sure each class has teachers each week. This means filling holes in the schedule week to week and on a Sunday morning too when the need arises! You are keeping track of who is serving when and with whom and who traded days with who etc. ****HOLIDAY SCHEDULING- This scheduling can be so frustrating and overwhelming around holidays- Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Summer….And in most cases, when there is an adult service, there will be children’s ministry. The other pastors may get a “break” to sit with their family at the Christmas Eve service. You may not. Your budget will have to be more detailed because it covers several ages groups and activities (Our is 14 pages as compared to student ministries 2). You will have a LOT more equipment to keep track of- diapers, wipes, AWANA game equipment, curriculum, teaching supplies etc etc. You have the planning of VBS, Camps, Weekends, Midweek, Christmas play, Harvest Fest etc. etc. Many of these have to be planned  up to a year in advance.

 

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Do you think what you do is harder than most people think it is? Stay tuned for part 2 next week of Why Your Job Really is Harder. Please be encouraged and have an amazing week. You are loved, and Jesus sees all you do for Him and His kids. Love Trisha

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I really hope you enjoyed the first part of this blog! It certainly hit home with some of you. And yes you can feel free to share as you like. Why is it so hard for those of us who lead others to take care of ourselves? It is not selfish to lead ourselves; it is essential if we want to be effective over the long haul. So here are five MORE ways to practice self care/self leadership!

5. Go to a conference- I always learn and grow so much by getting away from my usual setting and interacting with other leaders. Iron definitely sharpens iron. Many of my fellow pastoral leaders say that the best part of conferences is the interaction and networking with other leaders. I grow from the breakouts, from the main sessions and especially from the hallway conversations! At conferences you can find a whole new perspective, find new skills and have the freedom to discuss hardships that you perhaps cannot discuss at home. A conference is worth the investment in your future ministry. None of us should EVER stop growing or learning.

4. Perhaps take a break- Here is a controversial point for sure. Americans are some of the worst on the planet for NOT taking their vacation days (instead taking the money). Too many pastors report not taking a regular day off. In our culture, being a workaholic is seen as a badge of honor and a sign of dedication. But Jesus got away from the crowds regularly to be alone with God. I remember being told that you should never take a break from ministry or “that gap would look terrible on your resume.” Jumping from one bad ministry situation to another without taking adequate time to heal and recover, sets you up for more damage to yourself and your new ministry. It is not weakness to take time away and pray for God’s leading. Otherwise you may risk going from the fire pan into the fryer. Some churches are catching on to this healthy idea and offering pastors sabbaticals (usually after being there 7 years etc.)

3. Get someone on the outside to talk to- Due to the confidential nature of many of our dealings, we pastors can start to feel isolated. Everyone talks to us, but we have few to be real and honest with. And if you are like me, one who processes tough situations by talking through them, then you need a safe person to bounce ideas off of. This is absolutely necessary for pastors to have someone safe to talk to. I highly suggest you find someone outside of your church setting, who you know will keep things confidential. It may be helpful for you to find a professional counselor. Again, going in for counseling is NOT weakness. Having someone to listen and pour into YOU can make all the difference in the world.

2. Get a mentor- As the saying goes, every minister should have a hand up (someone who is mentoring them) and a hand down (someone they are mentoring). If you do not currently have a mentor, someone who is further along in the direction you are trying to go, then begin actively praying and seeking for that person. We must all keep learning always. And none of us have “arrived.” I have had to swallow fear before and just ask, “Would you meet with me every other week for 6 months? I just want to learn from you.” I have been so surprised how many “giants” of ministry were willing to say yes. I think it is because they too see the importance of mentorship. Not sure where to start? I would suggest a paid coaching for 6 months with someone you respect. Many ministry leaders- Jim Wideman, Karl Bastian, myself etc. etc.- offer this service. Sometimes a mentor, a coach who believes in you can make all the difference in your life and ministry.

1. Relationship with God MUST continue to be, or must become first priority. Let me just say this: Time spent working FOR God is NOT the same as time spent WITH God. We ministers spend a whole lot of time working FOR God- but most of us do not get enough time just spent WITH God in His Presence. This time getting away with God is not selfish- it is essential. Sounds terrible, but anything that isn’t carefully planned for, just does not seem to happen. You should plan your time with God right on your calendar and protect it. Yes I know life happens and you can have emergencies come up. But developing those habits of prayer and Bible study and journaling are the MOST important parts of your day- and the most important part of your personal and ministerial health as well. Make those appointments with God happen!

What about YOU? What do you do to lead yourself well? What leadership hacks could you share to help other leaders with self care? See you next week, love Trisha

ps- If you are interested in the personal coaching program, email trisha@peach.im for more information.

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Catch this awesome podcast from this week with Pastor Tom Bump and Trisha Peach, all about the real reasons leaders quit. Catch it here:

http://kidministrycollective.podbean.com/mobile/#.WcLfM9LSDzB.gmail

Great leaders need to consistently lead THEMSELVES well. When you wake up in the morning, you have the privilege of piloting an amazing body and soul crafted by God Himself. He loves you and gifted you uniquely to serve. Too often leaders think they have to neglect their own growth in order to truly put others first. Here are a few statistics from 2016, churchleadership.com, that should make us all stop and think!

  • 79% of Evangelical and Reformed pastors are happier personally
  • 88% of churches are treating their pastors better, too
  • 88% have a high view of Christ
  • 75% are better at their spiritual formation
  • 57% are more satisfied in their calling
  • However, 54% of pastors still work over 55 hours a week
  • 57% can’t pay their bills
  • 54% are overworked and 43% are overstressed
  • 53% feel seminary had not properly prepared them for the task.
  • 35% battle depression
  • 26% are overly fatigued
  • 28% are spiritually undernourished and 9% are burnt-out
  • 23% are still distant to their families
  • 18% work more than 70 hours a week and face unreasonable challenges
  • 12% are belittled.
  • 3% have had an affair
  • Yet, 90% feel honored to be a pastor!  Read more here:  http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?blogid=4545&view=post&articleid=Statistics-on-Pastors-2016-Update&link=1&fldKeywords=&fldAuthor=&fldTopic=0

But, to truly give of yourself to others, and to do quality ministry to more people over time, we must learn to invest in ourselves. In other words, you need to “fill up” if you are going to continually give out. It is such a misnomer, the old idea that you “finish school” and then minister until retirement. Really, we should never stop learning and growing. The people, the generations, that we are called to reach are rapidly changing. We must continually be growing or we will rapidly become burned out and ineffective. The following are 10 steps YOU can take right now to grow as a person and as a leader. #1 is by FAR the most important.

10. Never stop learning. Always include ongoing training in your plans- no matter how long you have been in ministry. You can go back for a degree (I’m currently in a Master’s Program online through Bethel Seminary in Children’s and Family Ministries). You can even audit a class or two. Some denominations (including mine) offer district training events. There are also online training “academies” on a variety of subjects. Just be aware that some are accredited and some are not. You may even want to go forward pursuing your ministerial credentials with your church, if you haven’t already. A friend of mine got a certificate in counseling; another friend got a tragedy response certificate.

9. Make your day off HAPPEN. Most ministry leaders are BUSY. So many tell me, “Trish you just don’t GET IT. I CAN’T take even one day off. It’s impossible.” And I always tell them, “I’ve been on staff at a very large church. Yes, I totally get it. But your church was trained to act a certain way; and they can be trained to act a different way.” Remember, you are daily teaching others how to treat you. Put a higher price tag on your health! Put the same amount of planning into having a day off as you put into Sundays or outreaches. I plan ahead. I have an auto responder for my email. I have a voicemail that lets people know I am NOT available and who to call in my absence. Only my admin has my personal phone number and she knows to NEVER give it out. She only notifies me if it is a REAL emergency. You need a sharp person who understands a real emergency.

8. Take care of your health- For my senior project in my undergrad, I studied, “The occupational hazards of ministry”. I was horrified to discover that pastors have a MUCH higher rate than the general population of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and depression. I believe that stress, long work hours and the fallout of poorly handled church conflict takes a catastrophic toll on your body. We may just be figuring, “Well, I’m doing God’s work, so God will just have to fix me.” Jesus also taught us not to jump off buildings and expect angels to catch us before we hit the ground. You will not be as effective as a pastor if you health- mental or physical- is a wreck. We pastors do not like going to get help for ourselves. We do not always have health insurance. But it is imperative that we keep taking good care of the body God has entrusted us with. This means taking the time to eat nutritious food (Gluttony is the only sin we openly promote and laugh about in our churches). Exercise should become your lifeline. Exercise helps with preventing and treating diabetes, heart disease, stress AND depression. Going to the doctor for regular check ups helps us face the reality of where we are at physically as well as mentally. We as leaders need to stop having a “martyr” mentality about our health. Instead of “sacrificing” our health for our “flock”, we can serve others so much better, for many more years, if we are physically and mentally well.

7. Take care of  your family life- This may sound harsh, but chances are you will not be in your current position of leadership for life. In fact, the statistics tell us that most leaders only last between 18 months and 3.5 years in a position. That is so sad. But no matter what the reasons, church positions may come and go, but your MARRIAGE is supposed to last forever. Your family is supposed to remain standing when the smoke clears. That is why your family needs to come before work at the church. No outreach or event is worth damaging your marriage or the self worth of your child. If your life is out of balance to the point that you are missing date nights and all of your child’s “big” events (not just one or two), then you need to do an overhaul on your schedule. If your family is your priority, then your weekly schedule needs to reflect that. When is your regular date night? When is your family night? You should be taking every one of your paid days off as well. Again, the “martyr” complex of not taking your days off because “the church needs you” is a mistake. Your family needs you. And they need you at your best.

6. Become a ninja at time management- Most of us have a lot more control over our schedules then we realize. We not to stop the false mentality that we are helpless victims of our chaotic circumstances. The old adage applies, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” It does not help to HOPE that someday your senior leader notices how stressed out you are and makes sure you get a quiet day off. That is probably will not happen. YOU have to work at laying out that schedule. It is WORTH it to spend an hour or two on a Thursday planning out your whole next week, hour by hour. Group your phone calls together. Group all emails together. Things are aren’t planned for just don’t seem to get done. It IS a lot of work to get your schedule under control. But how much do you really want balance in your life, home and ministry? Pray hard and tackle that schedule. YOU CAN get the life you are hoping for- you are just going to have to work at it.

Please stay tuned for Part 2 next week, where I’ll be writing you from Henryetta Oklahoma! I am flying down to help out my sister in law who is battling an aggressive cancer. Your prayers are greatly appreciated! God bless! love Trisha

 

A_self care

Need some extra time in your day? (Who doesn’t). Then, read on.

(And p.s.-I can’t wait to see some of you in central Wisconsin this next Sat 9/16/17 for Adams Assembly of God’s kid’s ministry training event. Call them today for more info on bringing yourself and your team 608-339-3878.)

I was nine months pregnant with my first child when I took on a full time children’s pastorate at a church of 400.  But by the time my second baby turned 2, the church had grown to 1000, and the kid’s church had gone from 100 to 275 kids.  Fast forward another few years, and I had a marriage of 10 years, a 6 year old with some medical issues, a 4 year old, a fast growing ministry at a church of 3000, 600 kids, 276 volunteers, 5 weekly services, and five staff to manage. On top of that, I decided to finish classes for my ordination, write curriculum, take a missions trip to Africa and then write a book. Crazy? Probably.  But it has been a fantastic ride so far, and I wouldn’t change all of those things for all the world.

And believe it or not, my own mom had doubts I would even graduate college- not due to academic struggles, but purely due to my lack of organization!  She would always say, “You would lose your own head if it weren’t attached!!” My mother is an extremely neat and organized person, an amazing planner and skilled coordinator. My poor mom had ME for a child, whose room was ALWAYS a disaster, papers everywhere, face stuffed in a book, losing my things by the hour. So it is a miracle of God I am able to survive day by day (I love you mom!). For me ADHD is a ministry gift. But besides acts of God, there are a few tips I have learned along the way (many times the hard way) that have helped me with organization and time management.  If you are a naturally organized person who instinctively has it all together, than you already know these things, and God bless.  But for those of us who are “detail impaired” here are just a couple of survival skills I’ve learned:

1. Identify Priorities- It is very easy for creative people to get distracted.  We see an immediate problem and jump in to fix it. We want to please others and get sidetracked helping with THEIR priorities.   But can you answer this? Where does GOD want you and your family and your ministry to be in a year? In five years? You may not be able to answer that completely yet, but here are some things you DO know: You and your family and your ministry should be HEALTHY.  You should be winning lost people to Jesus. You should be reaching and stretching further than you are now.  You should be using your gifting in a bigger way and having greater influence in the future than you are right now.  And it won’t just HAPPEN.  Anything and everything in this world has a tendency to DEGRADE- to stagnate and sink downward without constant conscious work- your body, your marriage, your relationship with your kids, your ministry, your education etc.  Nothing worth anything just HAPPENS. “Just ignore it and it will go away” is very true when it comes to the good things in your life.  What do you want to do- identify those big priorities and put them down in writing.  I write them ON my dayplanner- because my marriage, kids and relationship with Jesus are much more important than whatever else I have to do today.

2. Use a planning system- Now a lot of creative people balk at the thought of PLANNING anything to far out. They may use the excuse “well I’m just not that organized.” That is a terrible excuse and reminds me of saying “Well I’m just not very athletic so I’ll never exercise.” We may have to work HARDER than detail people at being organized and planning way ahead- but it’s not optional.  If you want to SURVIVE in ministry and still have your family (and perhaps your sanity) intact you MUST become amazing at time management.  Excuses don’t get it done. You will feel better and your life will be so much less stressful when you tackle your schedule.  It is NOT insurmountable.  Procrastination will only make your stress worse. Pick a system and get started.  Some people love outlook, or a planner on their IPAD.  I like google calendar, but…..I still also have an old fashioned dayplanner that goes with me everywhere.  And yes I get razzed about it a lot. But I LIVE by that little booklet.  I cannot rely on my faulty overloaded memory to keep the onslaught of information together. I carry it with me during our church services, because parents or volunteers will catch me in the hallway and say, “Oh by the way, don’t forget to…..”  and by the time I turn the corner I’m already forgetting and another person is approaching.  I write EVERYTHING down right away.  Some of my friends take notes and then copy it later into their IPAD, google calendar etc.  I have a virtual notepad on my phone, and even a voice recorder to leave myself audio “notes”.  So which method is “right”? Depends on what words for YOU.  Some people are more visual (me), and others more audio driven. Find what works for you and then LIVE by it.

3. Learn to live backwards. This is a big one in family and ministry. Too many leaders I know start by working FORWARD, doing ministry week by week just hoping that someday “it” will happen, but they never did identify what “it” even was. What really works for me is deciding 9 months to a year ahead what I want to do, and then working BACKWARDS from that date, I set up timeline “road markers” all the way back to the present day.  For example, if you are wanting to do a great Harvest Fest, you should already be working on it NOW (November). And then working backwards, you first set the date for your event, then what you will need to get done that October, that September, that August and so forth, until you are up to today. That is a guarantee to pace yourself, and to get where you want to go, with a lot of excellence.  This also helps give you a “margin” of time to correct the mistakes and problems that WILL arise along the way.

The detail impaired CAN arise to the challenge and live a FULL and rich life. It just takes a lot of work.  But it’s worth it. So comment below and tell us you’re favorite time savers!

Stay tuned for even more in part two.

Time Saving Illustration

So the schools are back in full swing- and you are probably in “back to school” kickoff mode at your church. Schools are always reexaming their curricula and makes changes to better educate students in different cultures and decades. What about the curriculum we use for our kid’s ministry at our church? Curriculums come and go, Scripture does not. So, don’t die on the altar to any curriculum. Hopefully, the curriculum you pick serves your church well for a long time. When it has run its course -just the curriculum, not your vision or mission or Scripture- have the courage to let it go and begin the process of selecting a new curriculum.

How do you know if a curriculum has truly run its course and needs to be replaced? Curriculums are long-term commitments. Hopefully you don’t need to change them all that often. But wait too long and it can do a lot of damage. Here are some signs that your current curriculum may be getting outdated or be in need of a change:

  1. It is a remnant of a vision or mission for the church that no longer exists. It served someone else’s vision long ago, and the vision it supported is no longer the vision of your church. For example, years ago your church was doing “the purpose driven church,” and the kids’ church changed curriculum to “the purpose driven kids’ church.” Now your church has changed its mission to “reaching our world, one relationship at a time.” But the kids’ church is still using the same purpose driven curriculum. The rest of the church is going a new way; the kids’ ministry was left dangling. Time for a change.
  2. The kids are no longer getting the jokes or references. Everything is so outdated that the kids cannot relate or connect with what is being taught.
  3. The teachers do not want to teach it. They are not excited about it. They make excuses not to show up. You know for a fact that several of them are just teaching their own thing because they despise the curriculum that much. Time to amputate (the lessons, not the leaders).
  4. The kids don’t want to hear it. They are bored, acting out, disengaged. They are not excited to be there. They are making excuses to not show up. They are not inviting their friends.
  5. The parents don’t want to hear about it. They aren’t showing up for parent meetings, and they don’t want to sign up to help. They are bored and checked out and making excuses not to show up. Stop blaming parents and kids for checking out. Blame won’t get it done. Time to give them something they can’t wait to show up for.
  6. It no longer fits your format. For example, if you were once all small groups (Sunday School) and are now switching to a large group (children’s church) format, this will necessitate a curriculum change. New vision, new direction, new format is a great time for a new curriculum.

Keep praying throughout this whole process, and you will see: a curriculum change for the right reasons, implemented the right way, with the right planning can ignite your kids’ ministry service to a whole new level. Use with caution; this kids’ service is now power packed and extremely contagious!

(excerpt from “Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch” now for sale on Amazon)change-shift