I blame my schedule!

Posted by TIffany Cooper

Last week we started to discuss why we blame ministry for our misery. I know, sounds like a downer of a topic. I’m a little sorry about that, not completely though. Many of us have had those moments when ministry is not our friend. So let’s go a little deeper into one of the common areas we unfairly place blame on ministry.

Blame: We never have quality time together.

Ministry is an all-encompassing call. It involves teaching, leadership, staff, budgets, vision casting, counseling, equipping leaders, problem solving, conflict resolution, volunteers, and so much more. Bottom line, it takes a lot of work!

I believe that we should work hard. The Bible instructs us to work 6 days and rest on the 7th day. Ministry can definitely fill all 7 days a week with work. As followers of Christ, we should be obedient to God’s instruction and rest on the 7th day. The question becomes, is the lack of rest and family time a legitimate work related issue or our lack of planning and boundary setting.

(Side Note: This post is not about separating family and ministry time. It’s about those instances when ministry schedules suffocate healthy family time.)

So, how can we evaluate whether we’re unfairly blaming ministry for our lack of family time? Here are a few thoughts to start with…

  • Are you expecting your spouse to meet the needs that only God can fill in your life? Your spouse cannot be God to you. It’s unfair to place those expectations on them; your spouse will fail at being God every time.
  • Are you living in a fairytale world? Do you expect to always have the perfect amount of family time with all of the members fully engaged? I suppose that would be nice but that’s not the real world. Even the families who have great family time understand there are season that require more personal investment.
  • Are you being specific about how you will make family a priority. Just wanting family time won’t make it happen, you have to work at it. Each family has different dynamics, decide what works for your family and commit to it. It’s unfair to blame the ministry for your lack of planning. Talk about it, commit to your plan, get it on paper and do it! Be sure to re-evaluate and make changes, very few things work perfectly the first time.

I do realize that there are ministry situations that you can’t control. Start by evaluating your schedule.

  • If you’re setting your own schedule.
    1. Are you filling your schedule with unnecessary events?
    2. Are there ways you can work smarter instead of harder?
    3. Are you only scheduling ministry events? It will help if you also schedule family times too.
    4. Are you a non-schedule person? If so, you will have to be even more vigilant to not let ministry related events take over family time.
  • If a boss or leader is setting your schedule.
    1. Communicate your schedule concerns with them.
    2. Do not attack. Commit to listen to them. Don’t get defensive; simply express what you would like to change.
    3. Don’t just ask for a change, come with possible solutions.
    4. Suggest a trial period for your new schedule.
    5. Understand that you might not get what you want.
    6. Maintain a good attitude.
  • Reminder: We should work hard. Personally, I am completely happy with my family time. My husband shows that our family is his priority with his words and his time but he also works very hard. He works 40-60 hours a week depending on the season of ministry.

It’s said that your ministry will only be as healthy as your family. At some point, your church will suffer if you’re family is suffering. It’s my desire that you would experience the joy of a healthy family!

Let’s talk! What does your family time look like? Do you have some helpful suggestions for maintaining a healthy schedule? Thoughts?

8 thoughts on “I blame my schedule!

  1. Anna

    Google calendars help us a lot! My husband created a “Youth Ministry” calendar and “All Church” calendar and I have access to both. I then created a “Family Calendar” that we both share. Items on each calendar always show up in their distinct bright color for that calendar and you can layer the calendars as needed to see how things fit together, overlap or conflict. When I try to schedule family things, I can check to see if a ministry item would mess with that timing and when he is scheduling ministry items, he can check to see if there is a family item already in that spot. We have agreed to be flexible on both ends, moving things around when possible, but we both respect the items that have already found a spot on either calendar and do our best not to move them around or cancel them unless there is really good reason to. If something needs to be really set on the calendar I’ll note that in the title, for example “My cousin’s wedding-nonnegotiable!”

    At first I felt silly putting things on a calendar like “Evening to relax at home” or “Movie date on our sofa” or “trip to the grocery store” but I have found that if we actually schedule those types of things, there is more chance of them actually happening!

    Try these out. They have been very helpful to us!

  2. LeadHership

    Thanks for the honest post! We’re all thinking it! At this stage, I’m pleased with the scheduled time we have for family. Admittedly, though, I need to work harder on scheduling time for JUST the hubs & I. This post’s got me thinking!

  3. Claire McLean

    i’m a really high output person and so could do heaps and say yes to everything… i often have about 3 projects or things on the go… but i know my family is a very high priority so i schedule them in too. i make sure my calendar has plenty of family time and down time for us all together.

    i so agree that if the family is happy then everything else can flow easier… and really they are my first responsiblity and first ministry. i would hate to get to the end of my life with a successful ministry but an unhappy rejected unsaved family!

    this year we stuck a monthy write and wipe calendar on the fridge and put EVERYTHING in there – means we have an outlook on how things are going. sometimes our worlds collide, this week all our evenings have been taken up: my husband had 2 school Board meetings and i had a baptism meeting last night as well as our usual housegroup night – which meant we said no to helping out with a youth event on tonight because we need some home together time.

    i also try and keep up to date with house stuff so it doesnt become urgent or overwelming.

    thanks for the great post tiffany!

  4. Tiffany Cooper

    Claire, I share your heart for your family…they are my first ministry. Thanks for sharing from your experience. I like how you display your schedule on the frig, it is much easier when we see it:)

  5. Tiffany Cooper

    Heather, it can feel like a juggling act for me at times:) Some seasons are better than others but at least I keep improving. Outlook has a lot to do with it. I feel like my perspective of ministry and family is very healthy now.

  6. Tiffany Cooper

    Anna, I love everything you said. We also love Google calendars!!! Very helpful tip for those that have never used them:) Thanks for sharing!

  7. Grace Jones

    Oh girls- how I wish I would have read this yesterday… My husband and I just had this ‘talk’ this morning…
    He’s gonna be at a retreat all weekend long. Due to sickness with him and then me this week, our family time has been almost non-existent! Man, if only we had ‘scheduled’ it… The ‘talk’ this morning would have gone better.

  8. Kim Wood

    We have learned that we MUST be intentional about family time. Especially with having young kids. My husband and I are MAC people and use busycal and busy it is! It helps us to see both our schedules and know who’s doing what, when. We intentionally block out Fridays as our day of rest. While the girls are at school, hubby and I get a date day and that evening is our “family night”. We each take turns deciding what activity we will do that night. It makes everyone feel valued, important and shows that their input and ideas are valued by the family.

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