This blog series will describe three essential areas, one at a time, to keep in balance for staying effective and healthy in ministry.
In order to be most effective, ministry leaders need to live balanced lives. Balance can be illustrated by picturing a three-legged milking stool. The three legs represent our Emotional/Relational, Spiritual and Physical foundation (ESP). A balanced milking stool allows the user to work in a balanced environment. However, weaken or shorten just one leg and the user can end up in an ugly mess. Ministry leaders are often out of balance which can cause burn-out or moral failure. How can you begin to understand your ESP needs as a ministry leader? Recognize the area(s) of your life that might be out of balance and you can work on them.
Emotional/Relational part of balance is about the individual themselves. It is addressing how each one feels about himself or herself and how they relate to others. Effective ministry leaders must first love themselves before they can love others, including your spouses.
They must understand clearly who they are and how God has individually and uniquely wired them. It’s also helpful for them to recognize and comprehend the effects of their early years of life. This includes the influences of parents, siblings, teachers, coaches and others as they were growing up. Each individual is different and has been affected by many things including their temperaments, the environmenst in which they were raised, the way in which they were parented, and their overall life’s experiences. If they have had negative experiences they may be dealing with issues of low self esteem, fear, anger, addictions, and depression.
Meeting with new and trusted friends (like a mentoring couple at Standing Stone Ministry) can be very helpful. To have a safe place where you can have the freedom and courage to openly and honestly share about your lives and the problems with which you are dealing. Sometimes an individual is stuck with something from the past that is consuming him or her. A good visual example to help put the past in perspective is to use the size and the location of a rearview mirror and the front wind shield of an automobile. If you put your face too close to it all you can see is what’s behind you. God wants all of us to drive down the road of life looking out a large beautiful wind shield while still having the proper perspective of the much smaller rearview mirror of our past.
Many ministry couples have had a friend or a member of their congregation who has invaded their lives in an improper way. This is very common with people who are dedicated to serving others. A good suggestion would be to learn more about personal boundaries and how important it is to include these in their lives. Two great books to read are — “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No-To Take Control of Your Life” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend and “Necessary Endings” by Dr. Henry Cloud.
Another very important area is the relationship that a ministry couple has with their children. It is often very difficult to be a preacher’s kid (PK). These children feel the pressure of living in a fish bowl environment. Often PK’s come to resent their parents’ work and even their parents if they become the neglected or the forgotten ones in the family. It is more important for ministry couples to spend quality time with their children than to do their Kingdom work. Being good parents takes lots of time and hard work and is especially challenging for ministry couples.
One more area to keep the Emotional/Relational life in balance is developing a small covenant group of trusted and close friends. Trust is the key issue. It is recommended that these friends not be in their congregation or ministry. This is so the ministry couple can be completely open and free to share and it gives an opportunity for iron to sharpen iron. The couple is encouraged to develop what we call a “kitchen cabinet”. This is a group of trusted friends who commit to meet on a regular basis to talk about some of the issues the individuals or couple are facing. It’s a great time for ministry couples to share individually and openly with true friends who love them enough to hold them accountable with honesty, respect and trust.
Too often, we find that ministry couples have tried to form this type of relationship but have been burned by the lack of confidentiality and trust. Therefore, they are reluctant to try again. Encourage the ministry couple to keep trying to develop a trusted group of friends as this is important to help them maintain emotional balance in their lives.
Do you have a safe place and time to unload the issues you are struggling with? Do you have someone who can be a good listener and treat you with compassion, concern, understanding, honesty, integrity and respect? And are they able to hold all conversations in strict confidence? Standing Stone Ministry can provide a safe place for pastors and ministry couples.