10 Secrets to Slay Burnout & Maintain Joy in Ministry - Children's Ministry Deals

Burnout quickly sneaks up on you in children’s ministry.  It’s like hunger.  You’re going about your day just fine and then BAM!  If you don’t get a juicy cheese steak sandwich, with caramelized onions and mushrooms on top, you might snap.  But in all seriousness just like we need the nourishment of food, we also have needs while serving in ministry.  How can an empty water pitcher fill up glasses?  How can a sleep-deprived mother show up for her children?  In the same way, how can a burned-out children’s ministry leader successfully lead ministry?

Let’s explore 10 secrets to slay that burnout and maintain joy in ministry.  After all, you signed up for this because you love it, right?  You had all of the best intentions.  Perhaps somewhere along the way, something went amiss and now you are left trying to pick up the pieces.  How did it get so burdensome?  Jesus promises us that his burden is light.  So, if you are feeling exhausted or lost your joy in this ministry, who better to go to with this than Him?  Let’s explore some ways we can all get back to loving what He has called us to do again!

  1. Remind Yourself!

Go back in your mind to when you first began ministry.  How did you feel?  What excited you about it?  Just like we need to go back to scripture to remind ourselves of God’s promises, we can go back into our own history and remind ourselves why we loved our job.  This might help you gain clarity on what you want to focus on and what is most important in your ministry.  When we are living out of purpose, we are much more likely to be joyful in our work and thankful for our position.

  1. Change it Up

Have you been doing the same old tired programs for years?  Just because the kids won’t hear them year after year as they move up to the next classroom, doesn’t mean you don’t.  Changing up activities, games, skits, and how you run your ministry can help you not to feel stuck in the past.  It provides ways for you to use your creativity which might be one of the things that you enjoy most about this ministry!

  1. Don’t Kid Yourself!

When you overdo it and never leave space for rest or your needs, the only one you’re fooling is yourself.  Everyone needs rest.  It’s not just the parents and it’s not just the babies napping in the nursery.  It’s you too!  God created us to need rest and when you don’t allow yourself to take breaks, have a day of rest, and take some time to do things you enjoy, you are setting yourself up for burnout and frustration.  

  1. Check your Motivation

Take some time and be honest with yourself.  What is motivating you right now?  You may have started out with the right intentions, but now you find yourself either people-pleasing or even working for praise.  How did this happen when your heart began in the right place?  It is easy to be distracted and forget why you are in children’s ministry.  Sometimes simply realigning your thinking can be what you need to work out of a place of peace and joy.

  1. Yes and No

Sometimes you have to say no in order to say yes.  What things might you be saying yes to out of guilt?  Have you ever felt like you had to have an excuse to say no?  Saying no to something allows you to say yes to what you need to.  Give yourself permission to say no to things that are too much even when you don’t have other plans.  This brings us back to #3, save space for rest!

  1. Help, please!

Is it possible that your burnout is a result of taking on too much?  Who can you reach out to in the church to give you a helping hand?  You might be surprised how much the children want to help.  Simple things like helping to set up and handing out fliers are great ways to involve kids in their own ministry.  Share some of your responsibilities with volunteers.  It gives them experience learning to lead and makes your load a little lighter and more manageable.  

  1. Be Choosy

Choose curriculum, programs, and outreach carefully.  Be choosy about what you teach, making sure it is aligned with scripture.  Pick a curriculum that you would enjoy teaching and that the kids would have fun doing.  Have integrity in what you do and how you do it.  This will lead to satisfaction in your work and a ministry that you can be proud of and thankful to be a part of!

  1. Be fed

Are you back in the nursery every Sunday or always signed up to serve?  You aren’t Wonder Woman or Superman, are you?  All joking aside, you need to be fed.  Give yourself opportunities to be taught and don’t always do the teaching.  If it’s not possible on a Sunday, make sure you’re signed up for a Bible study or are able to listen to a sermon another day of the week.  (And when I say sign up for a Bible study, I don’t mean that you are the one teaching it.)  Remember you can’t fill up those glasses if your pitcher is empty!

  1. Be Free

Is there anything keeping you from the joy that you could have in Jesus?  No one is perfect and there might be something keeping you from it.  If there is any sin holding you back, ask God to free you from it.  Are you free to give generously?  Or is something keeping you from tithing?  Are you free to love your brothers and sisters in Christ well?  Or is there something putting anger or resentment in your heart?  We are all susceptible and easily caught in sin.  We are also sometimes stuck because it is hard to forgive another’s sin.  Check your heart and make sure there isn’t anything getting in the way of you serving in this ministry!

  1. Better Believe it!

Faith in God and what He is doing is how we get through it all.  We have to believe that He will do what He says He will do!  We need to trust in his promises to us.  God has placed you in the ministry for “such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14) Believe it!  Trust Jesus with all of it.  Don’t take action without first praying about it!   God is with us and this ministry is alive and kicking because HE IS IN IT!

Getting back on track can take a little bit of time and effort, but it is well worth it!  It’s an amazing thing to do what you love and love what you do!  There is nothing else like it.  As God works in your heart and helps you to be honest with yourself, you can get back to doing what you do best.  There is so much value in the gifts that He has given you.  There is so much potential that you have and a purpose God has for you.  Be excited about the future because there is a promise that He has given you.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

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