Taking Care of Self and Family During the Summer



By Jake Kircher

With summer upon us, you are no doubt in the midst of finalizing your summer ministry schedule. Between Vacation Bible School programs, camps, mission trips and other fun outings summer can be a very fulfilling and fun time as we connect with the teens in our ministries. But that also means that this season can have times where there is extra burden on our families.

Over my fifteen years in ministry, I’ve learned (unfortunately the hard way some years) to make sure I am keeping my family in mind when planning the summer schedule. This has only gotten more important as our family has grown.  Here are a handful of the tips and tricks I have picked up along the way:

1. When it comes to vacation time, TAKE IT! Early in my career, even when I was single, I almost fought against taking any vacations. I was part time in my ministry position with a small volunteer team, so me being away usually meant youth group being canceled. My Messiah Complex said that if I canceled youth group, it would mean some kids didn’t get to hear about Jesus that week, and that was just unacceptable.

I came to realize, after hitting a massive burnout that almost left my then new marriage in shambles, that I just couldn’t keep up that kind of pace and that it was crucial for me to make sure I had vacation time to rejuvenate my own soul, which only benefitted my ministry. Whatever your church (or other job!) gives you for vacation time (and if you don’t have any, that’s a whole other issue…), take it, enjoy it and know that by doing so you are investing in your teens.

2. Save some of your creative energy for your significant relationships. From dating to marriage, my significant other has had numerous times in my career where she has told me she was feeling neglected and jealous in comparison to my ministry. I’d spend hours researching and planning super fun outings or events that would give teens a great time but when it came to my family, it was the same old same old. Or, more frankly, my friends and family simply came second. I’d hear about some cool concert coming to our area and I’d immediately think it would be a cool ministry event, rather than going with friends or family.

Make sure that this summer you plan a few outings and fun things just for you to enjoy with your friends or family. Not only is it good for you to enjoy things outside of church and ministry time, your friends and family will greatly appreciate the effort as well.

3. As your family grows, be prepared to reevaluate your summer schedule. Specifically, those of you who are in the young family stage of life, it is so important to understand that season for what it is and be prepared to change your expectations for your ministry schedule as needed. There is tremendous pressure on our spouses when we’re gone for extended periods of time; and it’s important to understand that parenthood can bring other challenges in to the mix. For many of you, it may not be realistic to do as much as you did in the summer prior to having kids. For me, I ran two different mission trips each summer prior to having kids; and when our son was born, I knew I had to scale back to only one trip since we don’t have any extended family in the area. Whatever your situation may be, it’s important that you talk to rour spouse and be open to scaling back or doing what’s needed to make sure your family is taken care of in the midst of a busy summer schedule.

It can be hard to prioritize our personal lives at times amidst the demands of ministry. But in the long run, investing in our spouses, kids, friendships, and ultimately ourselves, will make for more effective and healthier ministry as we model Sabbath and balance to the teens we work with.