It happens to all of us. Janie has a program and she really wants you to come, but Bobby has a sporting event at the same time and he also really wants you there, plus there are four pressing items calling your name in the office as well. You can't do everything. You simply can't! You want to. You feel like you need to. But you can't. Take a breath. You are not alone. We all feel this way from time to time. It's okay to say "No" sometimes. It does not make you a bad Children's Pastor. Sometimes we have to make tough choices when it comes to our time. But here are a few things that I have learned that help me in my prioritizing.
Don't neglect your time with God. It's easy to get caught up with planning your Sunday and Wednesday lessons. You can easily get caught up in your preparation and find that you are only reading/studying for those services. You forget that you need your own time of refreshment too. Because we are reading our Bible and studying Scripture for work, it is easy to neglect doing the same for our own personal growth. I know. I've gotten caught in that trap myself. But if we do not make time for our own spiritual growth, we will not be able to help others grow. Set aside that time. It's important!
Make your family a priority. If you are married, set time aside for your spouse and your children. They should not be getting your "leftover" energy. You, and your ministry, will be better off when you make sure that your family is a priority. Married or single, whatever day is your day off, keep it. Guard it. It is important for you to have time to rest too. Whether you spend your day off gardening, reading a book, watching a movie, or playing ball with your kids. Your day off is not an optional part of your week. It's important to keeping you and your family strong both physically and emotionally.
Don't try to make every single event. Ask the kids in your department for their game schedules, musical event dates, or awards programs at the beginning of the school year. If they give them to you (and sometimes they won't), then put some of them on your calendar and plan to be at those. Don't try to hit them all. If you only have 5 or 6 kids in your department, it's possible, but if you have 20, 30, 50, or more...you simply can't make it to everything. So schedule what you can early and then try to stick to that schedule. Be flexible for when something big happens, but don't try to fit every single thing into your schedule.
There will always be things that you need to do in the office. Board reports, expense vouchers, and all kinds of other paperwork takes our attention. However, certain things will come around continually and can be planned into your routine. If you are expected to turn in a report to the Board every month, make a notation on your calendar when you plan to have it done each month and then stick to that deadline. If you are supposed to attend staff meetings weekly, make sure you have them scheduled several weeks out so that you do not accidentally overbook yourself. Set aside a time each week where you catch up on paperwork. It could be a hour, a morning, or even a day. However long you need, set that time aside. For example, for me, on Tuesdays I try to do my paperwork (including the week's "to do" list) and begin preparation for Wednesday's services. Then on Wednesday, I am free to run any errands that might be necessary for the evening service. Planning out your week, helps make sure that you can get everything done and hopefully nothing falls through the cracks.
There will always be things that come up that we have no control over. You may have to skip a family event to see someone who has been taken to the hospital. Your calendar may get moved around to accommodate a child in crisis. But if you prioritize the things you can control, you will be better prepared physically, emotionally, and spiritually for those unplanned emergencies that come your way.
'Till next week...