If you've ever flown on an airplane, chances are you have heard the flight attendant say something like, "put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others." If you're a parent, you would probably be tempted to take care of your children first. But as wrong as it might seem, it really is best to think of yourself first. Sometimes!
So what does this have to do with church communicators? It's not that we normally find ourselves on airplanes or in life and death situations, but church communicators are known to put everyone and everything else first.
My pastor said something to me the other day that really resonated with me. Someone asked, "What do I need to do to be spiritually healthy?" And he said:
"You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
[Enter] This blog post.
If you're a church communicator, it's high time you start taking care of yourself! You may feel you are being selfish, but by not learning to care for yourself, you might experience burnout and will no longer be able to carry out your responsibilities. Nobody wants that to happen, so here are some great tips for looking after yourself.
Rotate Sundays Off
Not being a part of the church service on the weekend may seem like a sin... but it's actually a good idea on occasion. It's a good idea to have your staff (and volunteers) rotate in and out. Make sure everyone gets a pass every once in a while.
Ideally, this would give all church staff members a turn to take a Sunday off and to just be with the Lord and to experience the service as a "regular member." Instead of working, you can take the chance to be a part of the congregation, fellowship, worship, and commune. Take some time and remember what that all feels like.
Learn to Say No
Learning to say no might be one of the hardest things you've ever had to do (especially for those with people-pleasing tendencies). While it may seem curt, especially when someone is asking for your help, it is important to learn this valuable life skill. If you don't know when to say no, here are some instances when it's a good idea:
- When doing something for someone else takes you away from your responsibilities.
- When it doesn't line up with your priorities.
- When it keeps you from accomplishing your own goals.
- When it doesn't line up with the mission of the church.
So the next time someone asks, "We didn't get enough volunteers, can you come set up?" You can say no. That wasn't your responsibility in the first place, and if you don't have time, don't stress yourself out by doing it. Also, if you are constantly changing and adapting your job, you’re constantly hustling. You don’t have to feel guilty to take a Friday off. Which leads to the next point:
Take Your Time Off
Church communicators tend to feel guilty when they take a full day off. But if it’s your day off, then take the day off! We’re not just talking about how you shouldn't be answering emails after 5 p.m. That’s a given (or it should be, anyway).
And on days when you truly, truly need a mental break (and you know when you need one), you should just take the day off. I mean it!
Even though you have a ton of stuff that needs to get done, taking a day off when you need it can actually increase your productivity. So on those days you're having trouble focusing, having personal issues, or you're not managing your emotions very well, take time off to do something for you. When you come back to work the next day, you'll feel so much more rejuvenated.
When you do decide to take a mental day, don't even open your e-mails. Don't answer your phone. Don't respond to your texts.
I know it's tempting.
Be sure to warn them in advance, but, really, it's okay. Those people vying for your attention will survive if you don't respond on the same day. Don’t work. At all. If it’s your day off. Take. It . Off.
Equip Your Volunteers
One of the best things you can do to take care of yourself is find others who can do some of the work for you. Volunteers can make this happen and here are some ways to do it:
- Teach a “core” group of volunteers to train even more volunteers.
- Empower them to do the work, then they feel important and an integral part of your church.
- Make leaders out of your volunteers. When you have a reliable army of volunteers, you don’t have to micro manage, and you’ll feel at ease, knowing the event/task is going to go well.
When it comes to having good volunteers, it's also important to remember that they know what to do—you trained them, remember? By equipping your volunteers, you won't, have to put so much responsibility on yourself, which can help to decrease the amount of pressure you feel to do everything and do it all well.