We conclude our month focusing on boundaries and their place in our lives with…..

“What boundaries do you have in place to not stretch your ministry too thin?”

Jen Van Camp

Jen Van Camp has been the youth pastor at Nineteenth Avenue Baptist Church in San Francisco, CA for over 8 years now.  She grew up in Lexington, KY, and is a graduate of Cumberland College and McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta.  She loves her niece and 3 nephews, her little dog Chito, all things music, pop culture trivia, and of course, Kentucky basketball.

As a minister, especially a single minister who lives in the church parsonage, creating and maintaining boundaries for your personal life is of utmost importance.  Thankfully I am in a place where people rarely abuse the fact that I live closer to the church property than anyone else for things such as making sure the doors are locked, or lights are turned off, or seeing if someone left something there.  I also mention the aspect of being single because many times ministers with families have to make it home for dinner with their family, or pick-up/drop-off their kids for one activity or another, and it can be perceived that a single person automatically has more time to do church things…I mean, really, what are they doing?  They can’t be that busy.

It took me a while, but I established a pretty hard and fast day off, which for me is on Mondays.  I try not to do any church-related things on those days unless it just can’t be avoided, which sometimes is the case in ministry.  I do things for me- run errands, go to the gym, do nothing if that’s what I want/need to do.  Sometimes it’s not a matter of being too busy to do more church work, but that we need to take time to care for ourselves spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

I also have friends outside of my church family upon whom I can vent to and depend upon.  I play trivia, go see movies, hang out at the park, and when I make plans with them ahead of time and a non-emergency related church event comes up, I stick with my plans with friends.  These are just as important to me as family commitments and should be treated as such.

The truth is, there is always more to be done in ministry.  You will never completely clean your desk off or clear your email inbox, but sometimes you have to just call it a day and do what’s best for you.  You will be a better minister and person when you establish boundaries and stick to them, and hopefully your church can support ad encourage you in this.