Balancing Family and Ministry Part 2: Scheduling Priorities

Yesterday we began a series focused on balancing family and ministry by taking a look at the life of a young youth worker called David! I was blown away by the responses and comments. Check out the post by clicking here. You can also enter to win a FREE registration to The Simply Youth Ministry Conference by following the instructions at the bottom of this post…

Today, I want to share with you some things I do to ensure that I invest in my family and strive for healthy balance while doing ministry. I have a story similar to David who we read about in the previous post. There was a time when I felt like quitting ministry altogether! However, God has kept me in ministry and helped me to learn life-changing lessons and learn how to find balance for my family. For me, like many of us, it is a question of good boundaries and scheduling. In my next post I will look at boundaries, but for today I will focus on my schedule.

The biggest schedule lesson I have learned is this: Schedule the most important family commitments before anything else. Now, obviously days like Sunday and maybe a Wednesday midweek program are always on our schedules, but apart from those kind of regular activities, there is a lot of flexibility in our scheduling. Therefore, before everything else gets added in, I ensure that the following priorities get added into my schedule.

1) Family Meal Times: Believe it or not, it’s easy to miss these simple family times. It’s also very easy to be late to dinner regularly if we are not careful. Constant lateness home for dinner is a big deal since it communicates the wrong message to our spouse and kids. Therefore, I actually write dinner and lunches into my schedule, otherwise they can get overlooked. It also helps my wife know what to plan on a weekly basis if she knows I am going to be home for certain meals.

2) Date Nights: We used to be able to have a weekly date night before we had kids! Now it is twice a month! We usually plan these nights out 1-2 months in advance. When I take time to make these date nights a priority, it communicates that my spouse is more important than anything else. It also ensures that we always have something to look forward to when life is busy and challenging.

3) Family Nights: Now that we have two kids, we have an intentional family night where we do something “out of the normal”. It could be a family bike ride and picnic on a summer evening, or a family game / movie night on a cold winter evening. Again, we do these family nights every two weeks and schedule them in 1-2 months in advance.

4) Traditions: For us family traditions are so important! Throughout the year we have these small events / getaways planned that we all look forward to. These range from overnight getaways to a hotel with water-park, to our yearly trip to the apple orchard. As adults it’s easy to lose the excitement and anticipation of these simple events and trips. But I know how important these memory makers are for my kids! If you were to talk to my kids, they would tell you that the yearly trip to a German style town called Frankenmuth in Michigan is there highlight! Most importantly, it’s one of many yearly traditions we have established that always give us something positive to look forward to and memories to look back on…

Now, let’s be honest for a minute. There is nothing I have said that is a new thought for most of us is there? However, if you are like me, I have found that ministry can take over our schedules very quickly. It’s imperative that we are intentionally scheduling family times before everything else takes over…

And here is the outcome:

– My family stays healthier

– My church gets a healthier youth worker and my ministry has greater effectiveness.

– I hang in for the long haul and my students will benefit from my longevity.

What family priorities do you need to schedule? What family priorities have become defaults in your schedule that are benefiting you, your family, and your church?


1) Comment and Help David: What advice would you give David? What can he do to make the necessary changes? What needs to happen in his family and ministry?

2) Comment and Share Your Story: In what ways do you relate to David’s story? What have you done to make the changes? What changes could you make personally?

3) Tweet To Win! Tweet the following text and your name can be entered a SECOND time to win!

I just entered to win a FREE conference registration for SYMC 2012  from @PhilBell #stumin






2 Responses to Balancing Family and Ministry Part 2: Scheduling Priorities

  1. Shawn October 5, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    All those are great suggestions to instill, Phil. My personal struggle is getting home for family meals. I have a weekly schedule printed out and attached to the front of my planner, but I ignore it most times. I grew up with work-a-holic parents … it’s no excuse … but it’s where I get it from I guess.

    I need to be more intentional about getting home. Making that time more important than any other task I have to do.

    Thanks for the reminders. I’m sure I’m not the only one that needs these checks and balances – daily.

  2. Phil Bell October 5, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Shawn, yes, you are not the only one who struggles with this! Me too. But the more intentional I become, the harder it is to miss these valuable times. To be honest, it has often taken some painful times for me to make sure my family comes first. I hope we can make family meal times happen without our wives having to clamp down on us 🙂

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