Church Leader's Work-Life Balance

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I have just returned from a luxurious holiday where my wife and I rented a lovely holiday let overlooking Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight. I don’t mean to make you jealous (ok, maybe a little) but the point I want to make is a serious one.

During one of the breakfast TV panel discussions, the topic of work email was in the spotlight. The question was: Should people look at and answer work related emails when they are at home? The debate swung from one side of the argument to the other, as these things often to on breakfast TV. However, this got me thinking:

I work 4 days a week as a primary school teacher and 1 day a week (technically) for the church. I find with my school work I am able to put down my pen at the end of the day and leave it and everything else school related at school, not to be thought about or acted upon until Monday comes round again. However, with church work I find this a lot more difficult.

I suppose it is partly due to the fact that for a long time my main church activity and involvement was done on a voluntary basis in my own time, and this still happens – and it is good and right that it does. It is also partly due to the fact that church life and faith are so intertwined it is difficult to separate one from the other – and so they should be! But, I also know many church leaders who suffer from burnout and over exhaustion. How can church leaders avoid the pitfalls of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, yet without sacrificing the interconnection between living as a disciple and being a church worker involved in ministry?

I think the first thing we need to do is to try to identify and then perhaps try to separate out the activities and jobs that would be classified as ‘work’ and those that would be part of ‘being a disciple’. Ask yourself some of these questions:
  •  Can I do this at any other time and achieve the same result?
  • Do I have to do this right now, or will it wait until Monday (or the day I ‘work’ for the church)?
  •  If I do this task, will it be at the expense of my family? Is it worth this sacrifice?
  • Is this activity building me up as a follower of Christ?
  • What part of becoming Christ-like is this task fulfilling?
  • Is this task work related or discipleship related?
  • Do I take enough time out for just me and the family?
  • How would I feel if someone else did this task instead of me?
  • Is there someone else who is able to do this task?
  • If I did not have access to the internet/my work email for a week how would this make me feel?

If those tasks that are work related are eating into your discipleship and family time make a conscious effort to put them to one side until the appropriate ‘work’ time arrives.

You might find you are doing too much and need to find someone who you can delegate some of the tasks to.

Or indeed you may realise you need to start to train someone up to assist with the growing responsibilities and jobs that are arising from running an expanding ministry.

Whatever you do though, prioritise your personal discipleship with the Lord as well as spending that quality time with your family.

Do your job well, to the best of your ability but try to get your work-life balance in balance.

So should we open work email at home? I say ‘No!’, work can wait ‘til Monday!


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