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Mind you, we are still dealing with the effects of Covid, so while we were doing ministry, it still wasn't summer as usually. Aside from our amazing time on Florida for vacation, the rest of the summer was about ministry. By the time we reached the final days of August, we started asking ourselves, "Where did the summer go?"
So we sat down and began looking at the calendar, and the coming 2021-2022 school year. Our goal was simple, plan a balances calendar with ample time for ministry AND for family.
Having served in full time ministry for almost 30 years, we know how quickly the church calendar can take over your life. The remedy for this situation is, own your calendar, before your calendar owns you!
Own Your Calendar, Before Your Calendar Owns You!
It's a little easier said than done. But, it's something that can significantly impact your family. Early in ministry I heard stories from youth workers, who learned the hard way, the dangers that come from not protecting family time. They shared how they over scheduled their calendars with ministry activities and events. Thinking they were doing good for the sake of ministry, yet learning that their families were suffering. We determined to not follow in their shoes, but instead, we would work together to make sure we were putting family first.
For the most part, our family has come first. We learned the Seasons of Ministry. What are the seasons of ministry? The more we worked within the church, the more we saw that there were seasons of ministry; times in the church calendar that were either busier or slower than other seasons. For instance, Christmas is a busier season in the life of the church. As Christmas approached, the church calendar would ramp up with activity, culminating in multiple Christmas Eve services then finally Christmas Day. As a member on staff, we knew that Jay's time leading into the holiday would become busier. Then Christmas would arrive, and in most church settings we've been a part of, the calendar would slow down a quite a bit in the days that followed. Christmas was a Season of Ministry.
As we moved into the start of the school year, we wanted to make sure that we guarded our family a little better than we did during the summer. So we sat down with the calendar, and began planning. Fortunately, we are both the leaders in our respective ministries. That means calendar planning is part of our ministry responsibility. It also means we can sit and coordinator our calendars.
We quickly saw a couple patterns emerge and before we knew it, we were able to create a schedule that allows for healthy ministry opportunities while also setting aside plenty of time for our family. Basically, we have two weekends for ministry, and two weekends for family. We can serve and work with our students and volunteers, and participate in church activities, AND we can set aside time to go and have fun with our family.
Let us give you a few tips for protecting your family time.
1. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Communication is so important for the health of the family. Being able to talk about what's happening in and around the family is crucial. Whether you're setting aside time to meet and talk after dinner, or grabbing coffee together on a Saturday morning, learn to communicate what's happening within the family.
2. Keep a Family Calendar.
Whether it's one of those oversized desk calendars that you hang on the kitchen wall, or refrigerator calendars with the pictures of cats or waterfalls, get into the practice of keeping a family calendar. For a long time, we kept a paper calendar. Amy even had one of those little calendars that most mom's kept in their purses. Today, our family calendar is digital. Since our kids all have cell phones, we keep our family calendar digitally. It's easy to keep, and everyone is notified of additions or changes.
3. Do Your Homework.
We have a lot of things happening in our lives. School. Jobs. Church. Family. Sports. When we sit down to plan out our calendar, we do our best to bring as much information as possible to our meeting. We need to know when the kids have school, and when the don't. We need to know when the kids are working and when they're not. We need to know when their sports play and when they don't. So before we start planning, we dig up as many currents as we can. Then we do our best to fill everything in so we can see what life looks like with a full calendar.
4. Learn to Say No.
This is a tough lesson, but it's okay to say, No. To say no to coaches, teachers, employers, even your kids. One of the big ways we lose ownership of our calendars is because we don't know how to say, No. Saying No, actually helps to guard your family time. Don't be afraid to say, No.
5. Stick With It.
Learning to communicate, keep a calendar, do your homework, and say No, isn't easy. It's going to take a little time to navigate this process, especially if you are starting from scratch. But stick with it. Don't give up when you're frustrated or when it gets a little tricky trying to fit everything into your calendar. Stick with it. The more you work on it, the easier it gets.
This fall, we're looking forward to having a couple weekend to have some fun with our family. We have set aside a number of weekends to go out and explore some of the amazing locations near where we live, and we've reserved a couple weekends to stay home and rest.
What do you do to guard your family time? We'd love to hear what practices you have for balancing your calendars? Do you use a paper calendar or a digital calendar? Are you using an app to help you manage your family calendar, or do you just use your computer/cell phone calendar? How often to you get together to go over or plan your calendar?
Share your comments below!
- the higham family
Thanks for taking the time to read The Higham Family Blog. Each week we try to share new content about something we are learning, something we love, or something to offer encouragement to the family. We love to hear from our readers, so please share your thought in the comment section of each post.