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Stress in youth ministry: 5 time management related causes

This post is part of the series on Time Management in Youth Ministry. I have worked as a manager in a hospital and while that was stressful at times, it was nowhere near as stressful as working in youth ministry. Dealing with stress is unfortunately a skill you’ll need in youth ministry. But from what I’ve seen, there are a few common causes of stress in youth ministry that have to do with bad time management.

Let’s see if you recognize yourself in one of these 5 time management related causes for stress in your youth ministry:

1. Your daily routine sucks

If you don’t build in down-time in your daily routine, you won’t get it. You can’t just tackle each day as it comes, it truly pays of to spend some time designing an ideal week, a perfect daily schedule. Make spending time with God a priority and never, ever compromise this time. Schedule lunch breaks and play-time with your kids if you have them. Plan time with your spouse or with friends. You can’t work all day, everyday, every week. Make down-time part of your routine, otherwise it won’t happen. And yes, that includes taking a Sabbath every week.

2. Your priorities suck

Does your to so list constantly contain way more stuff than you could ever hope to get done? Maybe you need to have a thorough evaluation of your priorities in youth ministry. Ask yourself this: does it really need to be done? Is this part of the 20% I need to do that will contribute to the 80% of the results in my youth ministry? If not, cut it or reschedule it for later.

3. Your delegating sucks

If you are finding yourself doing everything, including a whole lot that you’re really not that good at, you may have a serious issue with delegating. Of each task on your to do list, ask yourself this: am I really the one who should be doing this? Is this a task I am particularly good at or one that’s so important I have to do it myself? If not, find someone who is capable and willing and delegate.

4. Your to do list sucks

If you’re scared of forgetting to do important things, if you’re lying awake at night trying to remember if you’ve thought of everything, you have a faulty to do list. No matter what system you use for a to do list (personally I’m a big fan of the getting things done method), you should be able to trust your to do list. The mind can only let go of things if there is a trusted plan or system. Spend time working on a to do list that works for you, one that you can trust.

5. Your planning sucks

A sure way to get stress is to lead a youth ministry that’s chock-a-block filled with activities, events and things where you have to be present. Either reduce the amount of events and activities, or skip a few. You can’t be present al all times, it’s not necessary and it’s certainly not healthy.

Obviously, the above are by far not the only causes for stress. While many of you may experience stress due to bad time management on your part, unfortunately there’s also a lot of stress in youth ministry that’s caused by other things. Conflicts, unrealistic experiences or a complete lack of volunteers are only a few other causes of stress in youth ministry. Believe me, I know all about them and we’ll tackle these in future posts.

Experiencing stress is one thing, but be on the lookout for any signals that you’re sliding into a burnout or a depression. Fatigue, difficulty sleeping, irritability, mood swings, uncontrollable emotions, anxiety, abnormal fears, these are all signs something else is going on. Take it seriously and consult a doctor.

Are you experiencing stress in your youth ministry? Can you identify the cause? What time management related cause is your weak spot?

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0 thoughts on “Stress in youth ministry: 5 time management related causes

  1. This is so true! Many many youth workers feel like the job is 24/7 and don’t allow time for themselves! Repeat it with me: YOU ARE NO GOOD TO ANYONE, ESPECIALLY YOUR YOUTH, IF YOU’RE NOT TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY. How can you expect to model anything positive when you’re so drained, tired, overworked, overstressed and overyouthed that you have nothing to give. If a young person in your program or youth group came to you and said ‘I don’t have any time for my family bc I’m taking extra classes, doing extracurricular activities (lessons and sports galore!), I can’t come to youth group or church because that is my only free time to catch up on my sleep and I don’t have any friends because I’m so busy’ you would talk to them. You would help them sort out their priorities, help with their time management, etc. You don’t have a very good leg to stand on if you’re modelling the same busy busy lifestyle that you’re trying to help them sort out.

    1. Well said, couldn’t agree with you more. You can’t take care of other unless you take care of yourself first and you loose all credibility as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I have also found that if you lack time management skills, you get stressed a lot faster. Especially when you lose that sense of control, you’re very vulnerable to stress. All these points are great and people need to work on those to avoid that burden on yourself.

    1. I agree that having the sense of control is key. When you lose that, stress has won.

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