Lutheran Church Extension Fund
Be an Olympian: 3 ways to manage the pace of ministry

Be an Olympian: 3 ways to manage the pace of ministry

This is the last post for vocational wellness month. Reading time: two minutes.

The gold and silver medals in the women’s marathon went to runners from Kenya, clearly the class of the field. Molly Seidel from Wisconsin beat the crowd and took the bronze by managing her pace.

Ministry is a marathon, (as if you hadn’t noticed). Pace wins.

Let me suggest three thoughts to keep in mind as you learn to keep the joy in ministry by managing your pace for the long haul.

Pay attention to your weekly rhythm, especially the sprints.

The weekly cycle gets ingrained into the psyche, the mental processes, and even the bodies of church workers. Whether it’s the activities of Sunday or the patterns of classroom work, our minds, bodies, and spirits start to fall into a natural weekly rhythm of highs and lows, times of quiet and times of intense activity, stressful periods and peaceful periods.

How aware are you of how your weekly calendar of activities affects your thinking, your mood, and your physical level of energy?

Runners in a race set out with a plan, but the plans, like a week in ministry, are often interrupted. Sometimes a mad sprint is unavoidable.

Paying attention to your weekly pace means understanding that your week will ebb and flow, and that it takes discipline to endure the sudden changes in schedule that result in unexpected assignments, late nights, and extra effort.

Olympians make adjustments.

Extra busy on Tuesday? Figure out a way to create some space on Thursday for something renewing. If you said “Yes!” on Friday, look to next week’s schedule to find something that gets your “No.”

Pace yourself. In any given week, think about the next three weeks coming up and adjust accordingly.

Pay attention to your annual rhythm, especially the uphill months.

Runners get familiar with the route. They know where the hills are and plan for them.

Your annual cycle has uphill months that take a lot out of you. (You know which are your uphill months, right?) Have a plan to pace yourself before and after those critical times in ministry that are especially hard on your family life, hard on your physical capacity, and hard on you because they drain you emotionally and spiritually.

Tell your family what lies ahead. Talk to the church’s leadership about it. Bring it up in your ministry team in advance, when you notice what lies ahead.

Talking about it makes the marathon a team effort. Have those who rely on you and value your ministry help you create some space so that, over the course of the year, times of sprinting and times of cruising along comfortably will balance out.

Remember how energy and experience have a way of balancing each other out.

Everything is harder when you’re young and you haven’t done it before, or not often. That’s okay; God has given you more energy to compensate.

As you grow in experience, your capacity for sprinting starts to diminish, and your recovery time from those busy seasons increases.

Adapt. Adjust. Find that balance of experience and energy that fits your station in life.

Pay attention to the road signs telling you how far you have yet to go. Pace yourself.

We need you to finish strong!

Thanks for reading.