Six Ways to Persevere Through the Sluggish Times
Have you ever had one of those days? You know the kind – where you really aren’t “in to” what you’re doing and you feel like you rather be doing just about anything else. What do you do when those times correspond to your time in ministry. Wednesday was one of those days for me. On Wednesday night, I run the games for our Awana program. It’s an-hour-and-a-half and something like 200 kids broken into 30 minute game segments. Usually, it is one of the highlights of my week, but this week I just felt rather “ho hum” and work out when I showed up. It’s bound to happen. We can’t always be ON! And, when it comes to ministry, sometimes you just have to put your game face on and trudge through. Here is what I’ve found works for me.
Working in children’s ministry, I find myself praying “God, give me the strength!” more often than I would like to admit. When you’re feeling down or just not into it though, it is essential that you turn first to God. He renews us day by day, and he can renew us minute by minute. Always start by asking your Heavenly Father.
2. Remember why you’re there
It’s not about you. It’s not even about the kids. It’s about God. Remember that, in your ministry, you are there to serve a God who died on the cross for your sins. If he can endure that for me, I can make it through a couple of hours of games, or a lesson on Sunday morning, or whatever the situation might be.
3. Plan Accordingly
When I’m not 100% sold out, there are still things I can do that will accomplish the purpose of my ministry. For example, when I am picking games for Wednesday night, if I am feeling a bit out of it, I try to pick a game where the kids will have fun and there’s not a whole lot of my energy required. On Wednesday night, we ran relay races of varying sorts. My job was to explain the rules and say “On your mark, get set, go.” There wasn’t a lot of “Ra! Ra!” required from me, which was good because I didn’t have a lot to give. You can do the same thing when you are teaching. Just gear your activities to work as much as possible. This is not, by the way, a reason to slack off. If you’re feeling down one Sunday, don’t throw in a video just because, but if a video actually works in the context of what you are teaching, go ahead and use it.
4. Strive for Excellence
My friend, Jared Massey, is fond of this term, and I agree with him wholeheartedly. Even when you’re not feeling it, make it your goal to honor God by striving for excellence in all that you do. Sometimes, this focus alone will be enough to pull you out of whatever funk you’re in.
5. Remember How you Feel, and Check Yourself
If you are tired or grumpy, it is easy to let that seep into your interactions with the kids in your ministry. It is important to remember going in that you don’t quite feel yourself and try to keep your reactions in check. If you are irritable, minor annoyances that wouldn’t bother you on a normal day are going to make your skin crawl. Make sure that your reactions don’t differ just because you feel differently.
6. Fake it Until you Feel it
I probably shouldn’t say this, but the truth is sometimes you have to fake it. You have to smile when you don’t feel like smiling. You have to seem excited when you feel anything but. But, rest assured that God is in control, and if you are seeking his will, he will provide you the sustenance to get through – so fake it! The feelings are likely to follow.