It's one of the unspoken truths being involved in ministry: the personal spiritual walk of the individual can often suffer as a result of doing ministry. For the full-time youth pastor you have staff meetings and whatever responsibilities your position demands.
- There's the administrative burden of running your youth ministry: coordinating volunteers, keeping up with your rolls, managing your budget, making any contacts, etc.
- There's the ministry "nuts and bolts" aspect of your vocation: keeping up with curriculum, preparing lessons or talks, teaching and discipling, and so on.
- Add to all this relational aspect: pouring into students, their parents, and not to mention other key adults, whether they are your volunteers or other staff members, etc.
- And I haven't even mentioned family yet . . .
Bi-vocational youth pastors have many of these same responsibilities with the added pressure of maintaining a separate job . . .
When do you have time for your own personal spiritual enrichment?
The truth is that in most cases, you have no time. To stay spiritually charged, you must make time. And that is the purpose of this post.
Here are some tips I have learned over the years that have helped me ensure my spiritual reserves are full:
Discipline is the foundation of any attempt to re-charge you batteries. The pace of a minister's life is draining. You need to draw a line in the sand and say, "something changes today." You have to have the discipline to make that statement, and the discipline to follow through.
Come Up With A Plan
Discipline is the foundation. But coming up with a plan is HUGE in recharging your spiritual batteries. Good plans usually equal success. Maybe you commit to studying through a specific theme (love, forgiveness, temptation, etc.), or you want to improve on and add to the verses you have committed to memory, or you feel the need to have a more committed prayer life. Prayerfully consider how you will address your spiritual needs and make a plan to follow through.
Feed Your Weakness
Let me explain this one. When I am feeling drained spiritually, I seek to address the deficits in my spiritual life. My personality leans toward the analytical, knowledge-driven side of our faith. I am not naturally inclined toward the emotive aspects. For me, being intentional about re-charging my spiritual batteries means focusing on my heart (my weakness), not my head (my strength).
So, when I am recharging, I'll spend more time praying through the psalms. I will listen to more praise music than I normally do (and really seeking God through the experience). I will make it a point to be more worshipful in my prayer life, more contemplative of what is going on around me. I find that this oftentimes awakens a part of my spiritual life that I otherwise neglect.
Maybe it's the opposite for you. Maybe you are super-plugged in to the emotional, heart-driven side of your faith. For you, seeking to re-charge spiritually by feeding your weakness may mean doing an inductive Bible Book study, or reading a book by an author like Tozer, or Lewis, or Buechner. While this may at first sound counterintuitive, you'll be amazed at how feeding your weakness brings to life your strengths.
Nothing breaks you out of a rut like serving. Doing something for others in the name of Christ is just a world-class spiritual recharger. Especially if this is not something you regularly engage in.
Unplug. And I mean that. Let your mind rest. Our minds and spirits need rest, time when they are not being stimulated or fed. If you need spiritual recharging, silence (in the car, in the morning before others awake, etc.) can be invaluable. God may be trying to talk with you but with all the noise in your life you haven't been able to hear Him.
Talk With Others Who Can Relate
Grab lunch with another youth minister or a church staffer who has been doing ministry longer than you. Seek out that deacon or elder in your church who has been a devoted Christ-follower for years and years. Ask them what they do to stay plugged in spiritually. Ask them what has worked for them in the past. Ask them to pray for you as you take some intentional time to recharge.
A truth that I have learned (the hard way) is that we teach and lead out of the overflow of our hearts. If your life is not full, if your spiritual cup is not overflowing, you will never be as effective as you could be at leading your students. Try these tips to make sure you are spiritually renewed and recharged.
What do you do to re-charge spiritually? How do you keep your spiritual reserves full?
(originally posted August 2013)