The #churchcomm Life ... in the Trenches - The Secret That’s Keeping You Stuck

June 30, 2016

If you are currently serving in church communications, I’d like to invite you into an important conversation. Let’s also declare that this is a safe place.

We know you’re fatigued. There it is. It’s out there. Was that as bad as you thought? Want to know something else? 
You’re not the only one. 
How do we know? Church communications leaders tell us in surveys. Occasionally, they tell us in person. Want to know how else I know? Because I was there, too. 
Let me be clear. I loved serving as a church communications director. I’m so incredibly grateful to God and to the church that employed me for 17 years. Truly, there was no other job I wanted to do. It was amazing. Those years were a part of my career journey, but far more importantly, they were a crucial part of my faith journey. God encouraged me during the good times, and He grew me through the hard times to the point that I’m thankful for both sides of the spectrum. I wouldn’t trade any of it.
Yet, there were days when I was tired of the relentless pace. At times, it was discouraging. There seemed to be no moment to catch my breath, let alone make progress on the big goal I really wanted to accomplish. Perhaps you feel the same way. You might feel like you could use a little help. Or you might feel like you are ready to give up and walk away. Either way, we’re praying God will guide you through the fog of fatigue and help you make it to the other side where you arrive wiser, humbler and ready to help someone else.
In the meantime, here are a few questions to consider:
  1. Is there a legitimate and temporary reason for your fatigue? 
    Do you ever find yourself saying, “If I can just make it to the end of this week/month/season, things will get better”? If so, are you being honest with yourself? Is there a legitimate reason why this month is more chaotic than last month? Perhaps you’re in the middle of a building campaign or launching a new multisite location. Those times are going to feel more intense than the regular transitions of ministry seasons. It’s to be expected. But if you can’t point to a cause with a clear end date, then it might be time to dig a little deeper into what’s really causing you to be out of steam.

  2. When is your next vacation?
    We know you don’t have time for a vacation, but it is important that you are taking some time off throughout the year. And yes, it should be more than a three-day weekend. Even if it ends up being a staycation, schedule several extended breaks in the next 12 months where you can have extended time away from the office to unplug, play, read or do whatever recharges you.

    Keep your time away sacred. Plan accordingly, so you don’t have to keep up with projects, meetings or emails during the days when you’re away. If God rested, so should you.

  3. When is your next time for renewal?
    Didn’t we just talk about this? No. Vacation is vacation. It’s fun. It’s relaxing. It might be spent with friends or family. But renewal is different. Natalie Chandler, therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling, partnered with Fishhook last year to produce a Worship Where You Work webinar. In it, she talked about the importance of having regular time for renewal. This is your chance to seek God, pray, plan and be open to new ideas about your ministry. 

    Some churches offer their staff members spiritual retreat days for purposes just like this one. If you don’t have this benefit, consider talking to your team leader about the possibility of offering it to staff leaders. Individual retreat days can be incredibly valuable in helping you set direction for your ministry area. Get one scheduled on your calendar in the next four to six months and plan to be out of the building for it to cut down on distractions and interruptions. 

  4. Are you worn out or burned out?
    Natalie also talked about the importance of evaluating whether you are worn out (short-term problem) or if you might be experiencing burnout (long-term problem). 

    Are you experiencing extreme fatigue, emptiness and/or feeling like you’re running on empty? Do you find yourself having a negative attitude toward work – or do you dread going? Ever feel like you just want to be isolated from your coworkers? 

    While there are other indicators, these are all warning signs that this might be something a little more significant than just the need for a little time off. Consider scheduling some time with your supervisor to address some of the challenges you’re experiencing. Or ask for help from a trusted mentor or Christian counselor who works with people who serve in ministry. As a part of our imperfect nature, we all get stuck sometimes. Be humble and ask for help. We also encourage you to make sure you’re taking the right conversation to the right person at the right time. While it can be tempting to vent with a coworker, it probably won’t help either of you move in a positive direction.
We want to give you the permission to acknowledge the blessing and the challenge of serving in ministry. It may be difficult at times, but it should also be incredibly rewarding. After all, you’re helping to spread the most important message in the world. What steps can you take today to help keep you moving through the fog?
Do you have a story or question about living in the trenches of the #churchcomm life? Email Aimee Cottle, our Marketing Manager, and let her know! We'd love to feature your story or advice on our blog. 
Jamie Shafer

Communications Strategist