Written by Aaron Helman
Four New Year’s Resolutions to Make You a Healthier Youth Worker
Don’t worry if you already missed the artificial January 1 deadline for setting your New Year’s Resolutions.
Anytime is the right time to make decisions and build habits that will make a healthier YOU and consequently a healthier youth ministry.
I’ve talked with hundreds of youth workers over the course of the past five years to figure out what’s causing so many of us to burn out, to lead out-of-balance unhealthy lives, and to lead so many of us toward loneliness, frustration, and depression.
If that’s you today, I’d recommend making these four New Year’s Resolutions.
These are often the most deficient habits in youth workers at the ends of their ropes, and correcting them now could save you and your ministry for the long haul.
Let’s be straight.
Almost everyone makes New Year’s resolutions to exercise more.
They want to lose weight, get ripped, wear smaller pants, and be proud to sit on the beach.
Nothing wrong with that, but the truth is, I don’t care about ANY of those things right now.
Instead of setting a resolution to lose X number of pounds or lift X pounds of weights, just set a resolution to exercise vigorously at least twice a week.
Doesn’t matter how ripped you get or how much weight you lose. Breathing hard, sweating, and getting your heart pumping is an ideal way to relieve work-related stress, balance your dopamine, and to provide an escape.
Doesn’t matter if it’s a bicycle, a gym membership, or pickup hoops. Exercise twice a week.
Most New Year’s Resolutions involve people forcing themselves to do things they should do, but don’t really want to do – things like “eating kale” and “using treadmills”.
This one’s different, because it involves a thing you should do that I bet you really, really want to do: sleeping more.
When I talk with burned out youth workers, more than 80% of them are under-slept.
A lack of sleep will screw up a lot of other things, and the solution involves the most fun thing of all – crawling under the covers and closing your eyes until morning.
My New Year’s resolution is to sleep seven hours per night.
It might mean a little less Jimmy Fallon in your life, but I’m still yet to meet a youth worker who blamed her problems on having too regular and healthy a sleep schedule.
You spend a not-insignificant part of your work-week looking at a computer screen, and you probably spend a not-insignificant part of your leisure time looking at a computer screen.
And while there’s nothing wrong with playing computer games or reading articles or scrolling Facebook, in your downtime, don’t be surprised if you don’t feel rested when it’s over.
If your body feels like it’s working, it won’t take the cue to actually rest.
My New Year’s resolution is to spend one hour a day fully unplugged – no TV, no computer, and my phone stashed away in a drawer.
I’ll use that time to read, to play with my kids, to exercise, and to get outside instead.
This one isn’t so much resolution as it is commandment.
God commands us to put our work down occasionally to rest, which is exactly what we say we want to do.
There is no better evidence of a fallen creation that we all too often ignore the commandment that we most often desire to follow.
My New Year’s Resolution is to take one full and complete Sabbath every month.
That means no work, nothing that feels like work.
Just me, God, my family, my pillow, my Bible, and fresh air from the time I wake up until the time I wake up the next morning.
Sabbath is God’s preferred method to recharging your batteries for another season of ministry.
So before you stress out, burn out, and bow out of ministry; make some resolutions to take care of yourself so that you are better equipped to take care of the ministry that God’s called you to.
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Aaron Helman is on a mission to end youth worker burnout by providing the training and resources that you haven’t been taught… until now. Smarter Youth Ministry exists to help you learn how to manage their time and resources better so that you can do more ministry with less frustration. All of that having been said, you most likely know him as the creator of “Lamentation or Taylor Swift Lyric.”