Finding Margin: You Survived Holy Week! Congratulations!

April 20, 2017 | | Worship | Worship, Holy Week

One of my prayers for our pastors and leaders is that this week they can find some time to rest and recover. We aren’t always good at this in the church world. Sunday is never more than six days away and we have the most important mission in the world. However, if we do not take time to care for ourselves we end up spinning our wheels, hurting our people and families and burning out.
 
In worship ministry, the answer to burnout is to find more margin. Margin is the white space in our schedule which allows us to pray, breath and step back from being busy so that we can think about where God is leading us. It is in the margin where we can explore new ideas, rediscover our passion and hear the voice of God. Many of my richest moments planning prayers, songs, sermons and experiences have come out of having margin in my schedule. It is in this time of margin that I remember my calling and what God has created me to do.
 
Here are some questions we can ask ourselves to conquer burnout by finding more margin:
 
Who can help?
A leader’s job is to make sure everything is done, not to do everything. If pastors and leaders in the church are doing everything, we’re taking away the opportunity for others to serve, contribute and use the gifts that God has given them. Recently I was working with a Team Vital group from a church that discovered a brilliant insight: Never work alone. We used this advice not only for the pastor, but also committee chair people, and volunteers in ministry throughout the church. By working in pairs or teams we can get more done, have better ideas and be raising up the next leaders (or discovering gifts that we didn’t know people had!)
 
Is it really important right now?
I have a friend who taught me my favorite question to ask, “what is the absolute last day I can get this done?” Now, before you label me as a procrastinator, let me explain. We can fill our days with numerous time consuming, good (but not great!) tasks. Sometimes we have to do them, or at least make sure they get done. But we are able to create margin by doing the most important things first, and setting the right time to do everything else.
 
What else can I do to care for my soul?
We need to ask ourselves this question regularly. For those of us serving the church, some of these things also will contribute to church life like creating an altar or diving into the scriptures in sermon preparation. We also need practices which take us outside of our responsibilities. I love to play the guitar on our back porch. Others may paint, read novels, bake, kick-box, or… whatever.  Don’t forget that changing the setting (visiting a favorite coffee shop, for example) can be refreshing for our souls and work.
 
This is important, friends. Sunday is never more than six days away and we have the most important mission in the world. Where is the margin in your schedule and how do you refresh your soul?