If we are not careful, student ministry and church life can be very stressful. There is always something to do. There is always another sermon to prepare for, another student to contact, another leader to encourage, another conflict to resolve, another project to be addressed, and another event to plan for. If we are not careful, we can be doing student ministry all day every day, and in the end be stressed out of our mind, and neglect our family as well. I want to give you a few thoughts on reducing stress in your ministry that have helped me. Now, I do not claim to be an expert, because if you know me, I get pretty stressed, and I struggle to stop working sometimes, but I am learning, and getting better, and here are some thoughts that have helped me recently:

  1. Create a “To Do” list at the beginning of each week for the entire week. This way you can set goals, and feel great when you hit those goals. Normally when things do not get done, I have learned it is due to poor time management and possibly lack of planning.
  2. Plan time to think and plan– This is important, but plan time to sit and write down your thoughts for upcoming events and different things that you have going on.
  3. Clear your inbox regularly– Now, some will argue with me on this, but it works for me. I try to respond to email regularly. Do not have the email up all day, and respond instantly, because you will not get anything done, but take about 3 times a day to respond to all new emails that have come through. Also, include facebook messages in this time as well.
  4. Leave your cell phone alone during the evening It is difficult sometimes if you have a smart phone. I can do basically all of my work right on my phone so it is important for reducing your stress that you take a break from the phone during the evening and totally focus on your wife and kids!
  5. Plan Regular Date Nights with your spouse– This is a biggie, and I love seeing student pastors who plan for this. I love going out to eat and even shopping with my wife, because it is not about what we are doing, it is about being together (hallmark card it is). In all seriousness though, learn this principle and your marriage will be better, and you will be a much more fun person to be around.
  6. Delegate things that can be delegated– Delegate to an intern, a secretary, youth leaders, or students. It is much easier, and you can get so much more done if we learn the principle of delegation. I struggle with this, but when I have done this, it helps in tremendous ways.

Stress is tough to take care. Many times we bring extra stress among ourselves because of lack of planning and organization. Try these tips, and if you have some extra tips for me, let me know!

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7 thoughts on “How To Reduce Stress from the Ministry

  1. Really appreciate this post, Josh. Since we know that burnout is such a big deal for youth ministers, managing stress is going to be key to making sure we keep doing it.

    Only thing I would add is the importance of keeping a regular Sabbath. It is Biblical, after all.

    1. Thanks Aaron, the thing is I have struggled with this thing, and these are some of things that I am actively working on in my personal life to better handle the stress that comes my way because of the ministry.

  2. Good thoughts here! Brian Berry has a book called “As for Me and My Crazy House.” I don’t know if you have read it but I am currently about half-way through and it is a great book for youth workers. I would highly recommend it. It also goes along perfectly with what you have posted here I think.

  3. Good thoughts as always Josh! I would add one that is huge that many student pastors don’t do-take a day off. I have Fridays off and it’s awesome! I think having a regular day off, for all church staff, is huge and will help reduce stress.

    Austin

    1. Austin, I have never really been in a position that has a day off for pastors. I kind of wish I was at times, because it could be extremely helpful, and I have heard the positives of this mentality from many other thriving growing churches! Hope you are doing well bro.

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