This year’s theme is “The Life…” Today we continue that theme with….
The Life of the Ministry Monster
Rev. Dr. Sarah Boberg is the Minister of Youth and Children at First Baptist Church in Red Springs where she serves with husband and Pastor, Rev. Bradley Boberg. She is the mother of a 5 year old daughter, Scarlet, who is red-headed and full of personality! Sarah is a graduate of Campbell University with a B.A. in Religion and Christian Ministries, a graduate of Campbell University Divinity School with a M.Div., and a graduate of UNC-Greensboro with a Ph.D. in Educational Studies. In the Fall of 2017 Sarah achieved one of her dreams, teaching Introduction to Christian Education at Campbell Divinity School! In her free time – let’s get real as a minister, preacher’s wife, and mother she has very little of that – but she does enjoy reading, writing, and dancing when she gets a chance!
I have often heard the saying, “If you create a monster, you have to feed it.” This is so true in ministry. As a young minister right out of divinity school I wanted to conquer the world of youth ministry. I wanted to do it all. I had an abundance of time and energy. I poured ALL of myself into “my” ministry. There was not limit to how many ballgames I could attend in a week. Lock-ins were exciting, not a burden. Working late nights to get administrative tasks completed was a normal occurrence. One more trip or event, sure! I gave life to a Ministry Monster. This was a fine pace for a few years and then the monster caught up with me. I was tired, worn out, and burnt out. I had nothing to feed the monster, but I couldn’t let the monster die. Something had to change. On a side note, some things still need to change. My ministry monster still exists, she has just gotten a little smaller and a little less hangry.
So I started doing some things my mentors had tried to tell me for years.
- I allowed others to do and minister. As a minister, you do not have to do it all. There are beautifully gifted people around you, use them!
- I asked for help. Allowing others to minister and asking for help are two different things. I started looking for the gifts in others and matching their gifts with ministry tasks. I also asked my church for help. I asked other staff members. I asked parents. I even asked youth.
- I started focusing on God’s expectations of ministry, not the world’s, the churches, or my own. I started to ask myself, “What is most important to God?” I gave myself a break from the grand expectations of megachurch youth ministry and sought to do youth ministry for my context.
- I let some things die. Sometimes in church we prolong the life of different aspects of ministry because we are scared to let them go. It is okay for some things to die in order for new life to break forth! Lesson learned from Jesus! Remember, the sorrow of death on the cross is followed by the joy of the resurrection!
- I let the youth take ownership. I realized many of things that consumed my time were things youth could do. Youth actually like being included, involved, and engaged. Sometimes they are even better at things than we are, so let them take ownership. If some things are not like you like them or want them, so what, give them the opportunities to take the lead and they will take great pride in their work.
- I started going to a Sunday School class. For years I taught a Sunday school class. Now I attend one. This is one of the best decisions I ever made. I enjoy studying God’s word with friends. I enjoy being a part of an adult discussion and fellowship.
- I started actually writing down the hours I worked. If you don’t want a wake-up call to your own ministry monster do not do this. I repeat DO NOT DO THIS. However, if you would like to reevaluate the life of your ministry monster, please do this. I started writing down every minute I spent “working.” I put it on my work calendar. I added it up each week. I am part-time. I am asked to work 25 hours a week. I was working more like 40, and 60, and even more on “busy” weeks. Now, let me be the first to say ministry is a lifestyle not a 9 to 5 job. However, as called children of God we need to be good stewards of our time. Our ministry “work” does not need to consume us to the extent that we don’t have time to live our lives.
- I stopped being made when things got overwhelming and remembered I had helped create the monster and her feeding schedule. Enough sad.
- I offered myself grace. I didn’t try to overcome the monster in a day. I offered myself space and time to transform myself and my ministry. I am still offering myself grace. The life of the ministry monster is hard to resolve!
Maybe some of you have a monster in your world that has taken on a life of its own, it happens to a lot of us. Maybe some of you are recovering from a ministry monster that ate you alive. Maybe some of you don’t have to feed a monster, keep it that way. So remember, “If you create a monster, you have to feed it.” May we minister and bring to life engaging and transforming ministries that feed on the Holy Spirit, not monsters that gobble us up!