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Time Management: A Good Tired

Are you tired? As a youth minister, there are many demands for your time and numerous expectations to fulfill. Do not be discouraged.

I am tired.
Don’t pity me. I asked for it. For the most part, I determine my own schedule. As a youth minister, there are many demands for my time, annual events, sacred cows, ongoing programs, but I generally decide when they happen. So when I stacked up 3 out of 4 weekends in a row with a Big Event, it’s my fault. And when there were 19 days in a row—almost 3 weeks straight—without a day off, it’s my fault.

The truth is, sometimes we get in those seasons of ministry when you can’t take a day off.

 Candle at both ends

The demands are too numerous, the opportunities too plentiful. In those times, a good night’s rest is five or six hours instead of seven or eight. You might lean on Jesus and caffeine a little more to get you through, but you do it because you know that, at least sometimes, you have to.

I’ve made my fair share of bad judgment calls during this stretch. For instance, after the 19 days in a row I had two days without anything going on ministry-wise. For some reason, we decided my wife should work those two days. Dumb move. I worked hard to squeeze in meals at home, time on the floor with my kids, and time alone for refreshing, but each day that I headed out the door I felt a little less connected. It is tiring, indeed.

But my pontification up to this point is not meant to inspire empathy. At worst, you think I’m foolish. At best, you understand the drill and can throw up a prayer for me. I’ll do the same for you. But the truth is, beyond the fast food eaten slowly or the healthy food eaten fast (both of which I hear are bad for me); beyond the long days, packed nights, and busy weekend; beyond the rushed mornings getting ready, the late nights collapsing into bed, I don’t really mind.

I am tired, but it’s a good tired.
It’s the kind of tired I used to feel as a teenage boy after a hard day’s work on the farm. It was hot, I was sweaty, my muscles were sore, and I was starving and in desperate need of a shower—but the hay was in the barn.

During this fast-forward version of ministry, I’ve participated in some pretty cool stuff. There were cool events and programs, sure, but more than that—life changes. I baptized a kid named Austin, who previous to coming to our church had never really heard the Gospel. He surrendered to the Lord. I talked to three girls—all messed up in many ways—as they shared with me how they wanted to know more about how to live for Jesus. And this past Sunday I baptized a friend of mine, a kid I met when he was in 5th grade, who has been walking with Jesus through an irreparable heart condition, a near-death experience, and an eventual transplant. His journey hit a huge milestone as he received a new spiritual heart on Sunday, raised to new life a la Romans 6. I could barely recount the story later without tearing up.

In the midst of the madness, God is doing some pretty incredible stuff. This era will come to an end soon enough, and a more balanced routine will commence. I’m thankful for that. In the mean time, I will press on through the arduous days, because smack-dab in the middle of them, God is changing people’s lives, and I get a front row seat.

So tonight, I’ll turn off my computer and turn out the lights. I’ll drag myself upstairs to my room, toss misplaced items of clothing off my bed onto the floor, dig out a hole in the covers, and my tired head will hit the pillow. I’ll recall the long hours, the tired mind, the absence of a date night, the greasy burgers and fries and the always-running-five-minutes behind. I’ll close my eyes and think to myself, “I’m tired.”

And I will smile.

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