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Break Your Day into Thirds

A creative way to avoid burnout in ministry

Sandy Hughes, pastor of communications at Central Peninsula Church in Foster City, California, knows a thing or two about sustainability in ministry. A year ago, she finished 32 years in youth ministry, and then stepped into a new role at the church she has belonged to for the last 17 years. Her longevity in youth ministry in particular is admirable, given the average tenure of a youth pastor is just over three years.

What sets Hughes apart, not only from other youth ministers, but also from other persons in positions of church leadership? The answer is simple—the daily, weekly, and yearly rhythms of rest and play naturally built into her schedule.

During her youth ministry days, she often blocked her days into thirds. After devotions, she spent her mornings designing, planning, and organizing. Her afternoons usually involved communing with people, primarily students and adult volunteers. Then, because of the flexibility her schedule allowed, if she anticipated working a late night, she adjusted the rest of her day—before and after—accordingly. If she worked late on a weeknight, she made sure to block out free time during the week to make up for those extra hours. It was usually easiest for her to do this on Fridays, which were generally more flexible with the weekly church calendar. Additionally, the church elders sought to care for the staff by limiting evening responsibilities to two nights a week.

Now, nearly a year into her new role, Hughes is still finding her way in a position largely dominated by social media. She still breaks her days up into thirds.

“I try to organize tasks into certain days,” Hughes said in a phone interview, “because it helps create a rhythm for me. I suppose it’s like block scheduling, but certain parts of my job tend to fall on certain days.” For example, worship services are held on Sunday mornings, but on Sunday afternoons she creates and schedules all social media posts for the week. Wednesday mornings are spent strategizing future weeks, while Wednesday afternoons are more detail-oriented—organizing the weekly e-newsletter, updating the website, implementing web design, and meeting with individual staff. Thursdays and Fridays are largely encompassed by Sunday morning preparation—from printing bulletins to creating slides to texting updates, Hughes’ team is responsible for anything and everything communication-oriented at the large, multi-site campus.

Since she oversees communications for three different campuses, and because her role is a new position for the church as a whole, in a way, she’s learning as she goes. Still, Hughes holds Saturdays and Mondays sacred in her schedule because taking care of herself is so important.

August03, 2017 at 8:00 AM

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