Leading Well, Living Well: Sustaining Your Health In Ministry

Reposted from Orange's thinkorange.com blog.

I don’t remember the exact year, maybe year 14, in ministry when I hit a wall in my spiritual life and discovered that I was burning out. I want to think that outwardly, I appeared to be doing incredibly well.

My student ministry was thriving, students were bringing their families to church, I was getting asked to speak more outside of my circle of peers, and I had just finished a year of coach training.

But all of those “successes” were an illusion.

Inwardly, I was dying.

I was empty.

I was exhausted.

I felt like there was very little to give to my family. I was dangerously tired and wanted to quit. All of it, everything I was involved in, I was ready to hand it all over and walk away.

I became incredibly skilled at lying. And not the really hurtful kind of lies but the kind of lie when someone asks you how you are doing, and your response is almost always, “I’m fine,” and then immediately turn the conversation to the other person by asking about them or their family.

I often think about the time we have on Earth and how the number of days we have is not promised. I want to aggressively love well with my time here, but the piece that is so easy to miss is that loving well includes me.

While this is my story, I know that I am not the only one. Every leader I am fortunate enough to coach and engage with feels wearier than they ever felt before. To be weary is when your entire self is in a state of depletion. Weariness is as much about your soul as it is about your body.

Here are two questions that have helped me sustain my ministry without burning out.

How do you replenish when you are depleted?

Replenishing your soul doesn’t happen by accident and requires taking intentional steps. One key discipline that has been helpful for me and many other leaders is spiritual direction. If you aren’t familiar with spiritual direction, you may be skeptical, but it is just a safe place for attending to your soul and investing in spiritual transformation. It is especially helpful for leaders because it is outside public view, and the only agenda is connecting with God. If you feel like you have been working for God and have not been with God in some time, perhaps looking for a Spiritual Director could be the path to finding some inner freedom and rest. 

Another helpful practice is seeking out a great coach to help you curate a healthy rhythm. Jesus said, “ I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” I believe to experience that fullness, we need to develop healthy rhythms.  We cannot operate as though our calling is temporary, so we need to develop sustainable rhythms that help us thrive as we lead for the long haul. 

Creating the ideal rhythmic week can be the foundation that leads to a healthy life.

I use the word rhythm with myself, my direct report, and my family because saying the word schedule alludes to having a normal week, and we all know that there is nothing normal about what we do. However, we can rethink our daily schedules so that even when every day is different, we develop rhythms that replenish our souls. 

How can we use the hidden patterns of the day to build the ideal rhythm?

Healthy leaders find meaningful pursuits that provide recalibration, refreshment, and renewal. 

This can look different for everyone. From binge-watching The Golden Bachelor to an afternoon walk, no matter what you choose, sleep needs to be a priority. Sleep is like money; deficits become debt, and debt needs to be paid off. We, yes, all of us, were designed to spend about a 1/3 of our life sleeping and, on top of that, an additional 1/7 of our lives resting. Someone once said that 70% of discipleship is a good night’s sleep. Guard your sleep. Embrace naps.

A life of ministry can be fulfilling without being all-consuming.

I do not believe that God intended for you to sacrifice your family so that you can do kingdom work. God gave you gifts and desires to lead, but I do not believe that God meant for those gifts to be a burden to you or to your family.

If you are going to experience life in ministry to the full, you need to keep in mind what matters most TO YOU before anyone else tries to tell you what SHOULD matter most. Spend time curating your personal and professional values so that you can stay strong and be the leader that God has created you to be. 

We want you to be here longer! It takes real time to build relationships where you can influence the lives of kids, teens, and families. Working to stay a healthy leader means that you can keep showing up in the spaces that need you most.

My “Next”

My “Next”

Life is Changing

I am excited about my next. It is this great season in my life where everything has this new feel to it. My daughter has left home to go to college, so that means no more PTSA commitments. That also means I no longer have to be a chairperson for anything. It means I don’t have to run up to the high school to deliver a pair of pants because the pants she chose to wear didn’t fulfill the dress code even after I told her they were not ok. It means there are no midnight trips to Walmart to start the project that is due at 7:30am the next morning, and well, I could go on and on. Maybe your list doesn’t look like mine because I was an overcommitted mom, but it is nice to wipe some of those things off my plate. I now have space in my daily schedule to be creative, knit more, read more, travel more, and do whatever the heck I want to do! Can I get an amen?! But, this means there is also space to be lonely because no matter what I fill the mom space with, I'm still missing my kiddo. Let’s just not go there…I haven’t cried in weeks about the empty chair at the dinner table every night, so…moving on.

Ministry Decision

I decided that my next would not be in the walls of a church. There are many reasons that shaped this decision, but listing them would be an entirely different blog post. I really felt like it was time to move out of my youth ministry role, but I knew I still wanted to work in a ministry of sorts. I also knew I wanted my next to involve using my coaching certification.


So in walks Orange. Orange is a strategy. It starts with two individual influences in a student’s life. Home and church. When we combine the home and church we will have a greater impact to ensure that the student has a better future. From this strategy, Orange has created some amazing resources to partner with families and churches. I love Orange. I have been using their strategy for years in my church ministry. I know and understand the impact it can have on families, and I have seen first hand the impact Orange's strategy has on communities. I am truly sold out for what Orange stands for! So my next is Orange. I am now employed as an Orange Student Specialist. You can read more about that here. But essentially I get to coach other youth pastors on how to maximize the Orange strategy in their ministries. I get to see how Orange is making a difference in the life of churches and communities around the globe.

The best part of my job at Orange is that I get to talk with small churches! I have a heart for small churches because that is where I came from. An impact can be made in the life of a small church. Ministry doesn’t have to happen at only mega churches; ministry can happen with three students. I love empowering our small churches because they too can lead change in their community! So that is my next. Well, Orange…and some new knitting projects!

Did He Just Say the C-Word?

Did He Just Say the C-Word?

Coaching. It's a word that means so much to me because it has changed my life both personally and professionally, but many people feel like the c-word means something negative.

Coaching is about helping you reach goals and planning your next steps. It allows someone from outside your daily life and routine to give you insight into your current reality. Many people think they are somehow being punished when it's recommended they seek out coaching. Many others see working with a coach as a sign of weakness. Using a coach doesn't mean you're failing. In fact, when you say yes to coaching it means you truly care about what you are doing, and you want your work to produce the best results possible.

The bottom line is this; your current actions and attitude are working together right now to perfectly produce the results you're getting. Reversing this logic shows us that in order to produce better results, you need to have better actions and attitude.

Actions + Attitude = Results
and therefore
Results = Actions + Attitude

The logic above seems simple enough, but the the reality is, most of the time, it is really hard to see how to better our actions and attitudes. This is where your coach can help. Coaches are trained to see your greater potential and challenge you to achieve that potential incrementally over time.

I recently met Chris, at a retreat for his students. While at the retreat, Chris signed up for a 30-minute coaching session with me. The coaching sessions were offered for free to youth pastors during the scheduled free time for the day. Not many people took advantage of the coaching for the same reasons I listed above, but Chris was different. He was early and waiting on me because he couldn't wait to get started.

Chris is part of a trio of dads who run their church's student ministry. All the dads have full-time jobs and volunteer on their time off to run the student ministry. Chris wanted to meet with me because he wanted to discover the best way to move his church's ministry forward.

So, here is what's so incredible about Chris. He not only leads this ministry voluntarily, which brought 17…SEVENTEEN…students to this retreat, but he also cared enough about the future of the ministry to seek out coaching.

There is SO much that I love about Chris: his heart for ministry, his passion for guiding students to Jesus, and his love for the other dads he leads with. Since meeting with him at that retreat, I pray for him everyday. I am so moved seeing Chris' love for Jesus push him to be his absolute best for his ministry and his church. May we all have the drive to be our best for our students!

Interested in a coach?

If you are interested in working with a coach or know someone who is, feel free to contact me. Please fill out this coaching request form, and I'll contact you to setup a time to talk.

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Master Chef Cook-Off Game

Master Chef Cook-Off Game

Here are the directions for the Master Chef Cook-Off game I spoke about with in my interview with Shawn Howell. This could be a great youth group game to tie your message to something fun and memorable. You're group is sure to remember a message with “fancy” appetizers!

3 or more student “chefs”
2 or more adult “judges”

•10 or more random, food ingredients you’d normally mix together to make a meal
•Fancy paper or plastic plates
•Squeeze bottles containing sauces to decorate the entré for presentation points

•Spray cheese
•Bacon bits
•Gummy worms
•Parmesan cheese

The chefs compete for 2 minutes and create the same appetizer for each judge using only 6 of the supplied ingredients.

Play upbeat music and have the spectators cheer on the chefs while the timer is counting down.

After the 2-minute timer expires, have each chef reveals the appetizers to the judges and explain the presentation and the ingredients used. The judges taste the appetizers after each chef’s reveal.

Once all the appetizers have been tasted, the judges vote on taste and presentation to choose a winner.

21 Weeks

21 Weeks

There are 21 weeks until my daughter leaves for college, and everything we've taught her about how to live her life in a Godly way will begin to be truly tested for the first time. 21 weeks until invitations and opportunities begin to bombard her integrity. 21 weeks until she begins to stand up for her own decisions and choices to be the amazing young woman she is meant to be.

There are 149 days left to just hang out at the table playing cards, laughing, and enjoying each other's company. 149 days left to work through our, sometimes heated, disagreements about how to live, how to learn, and how to grow with love, integrity, and grace. 149 days left to lie awake in bed waiting for the front door to open, so I can fall asleep knowing she's safe at home. 149 days left to treasure the smell of waffle cones trailing every step she makes through the house when she comes home from work.

3,578 hours.

214,696 minutes.

12,881,753 seconds.

Regardless of how we think about the time in weeks, days, hours, minutes, or seconds, we have to be conscious of the fact that it's constantly ticking away at the same rate. 24/7. It's easy to trick ourselves into believing we have more time when we think of it in larger values like 12,881,753 seconds. But no matter how we spin it, it's still only 21 weeks.

LIFT Ministry Mini-Documentary

LIFT Ministry Mini-Documentary

Orange filmed a mini-documentary of the LIFT mid-week experience at Grayson United Methodist Church. Over 200 middle schoolers walk from school to Grayson UMC for their mid-week experience. It's been great to partner with XP3 to showcase the middle school ministry at Grayson UMC. I am blessed to have been a part of such a great ministry, and I'm excited to see LIFT continue to build disciples of Christ.

Stuck in the In-Between

Yesterday my 17 year old daughter stood in our kitchen screaming at my husband and I that she was an adult, and we needed to treat her as such. Now my first instinct was to tackle her to the ground and try to expel the demon that had taken over my sweet daughter's body, but in a calm voice I talked to her about what injustice had taken place to make her loose her mind.

I remember being this age. I probably had the same heated conversation with my own parents. In one moment we are asking our daughter to make adult choices – she is looking at colleges and trying to decide where to head in the next season of her life. In the next minute we are reminding her for the 27th time to pick up the towels off the bathroom floor. It's hard because as her mom I am still driving the helicopter, but I am trying to back off. I swear.

This next year will be hard for all us as we tread through some uncharted territory. I'm praying for God to lead us all through it!