I think we are all familiar with the problem of time management in SBS. We as staff are constantly faced with the need to prioritize our tasks. It can be tempting to enter a new school year with high ideals of doing better teachings and more one-on-ones. While I agree that it is important for us as staff to seek to continue growing, I do think it is also important to remember that sometimes being a better staff does not necessarily mean doing more, but rather seeking to be good stewards of the tasks that we already have. We as staff will often find ourselves filling many roles as pastors, mentors, friends and expository teachers, sometimes simultaneously. But realistically, how should we seek to fill all these roles? And what place does balance have in our lives as SBS superheroes? How can we better serve our students and fellow staff – by doing more, or by managing what we are doing better? With these questions in mind, here are a few ideas that have helped me find some stability in SBS staff life:
Set a few goals right away.
I have found it very valuable to be strategic in selecting setting a few, attainable goals in my life at the beginning of the year, or at the beginning of each quarter in SBS. Whether they are personal goals or relating to teaching or discipling, this can help ensure continual growth, and gives you something to work toward throughout the year. By setting consistent goals, you will find that by the end of the school you have achieved something tangible, and didn’t spend the year quite so distracted with all the little goals that tend to build up and never get done.
Take time to re-focus.
People will generally apply this idea of refocusing by having a regular quiet time, which is certainly important. However, more than doing just a regular quiet time, it can be really good to take extra time throughout your day to get away for 10 or 15 minutes to pray. A good rule of thumb for me has been – the more stressed I am, the more I probably need to give my time back to God and seek Him for His priorities over my own life.
Avoid the “Messiah Complex”.
It is really tempting to see ourselves as SBS superheroes. We want to be available to our students, offering wisdom and support. But in reality, we aren’t superheroes – we are sidekicks. God is the superhero, and nine months in His word WILL bring transformation. Being willing to let God be God by laying aside our own egos can speak far more than trying to tackle too much work, or trying to deal with difficult issues that we may not be equipped to handle. Of course, we should always be willing to pray with students who are struggling – having a close one-on-one connection can still speak volumes, and refocusing on who God is in prayer together will always, I think, be the best place to start. But when the time comes for finding a next step, we should also be willing to step outside ourselves to find good help that will begin to establish a place of healing for the student.
All work and no play will lead to burnt-out SBS staff. Take time to have fun. Find ways to keep things interesting, both on SBS time and personal time. Take up a hobby, schedule a game night, go on a hike – do something fun! One truth that has stuck with me throughout my SBS staff experience is simply that everything we do teaches. Often, this statement is used in the context of seeking to consistently maintain a lifestyle of heroic deeds and action-packed ministry. But the unique thing about SBS is we are essentially running a marathon alongside our students. If we sprint for a while, they will see it and respect our speed. But they will also see us when we fall flat on our faces. This is why I think that modeling balance is actually critical to maintaining an effective ministry in the SBS – because we expect our students to maintain a steady pace for nine months, and the only way they will learn how to do that is if we as staff show them. We have a unique opportunity to demonstrate to students not only what it looks like to seek God in the spiritually “high” moments, but also in the “lows” and the “norms” of daily life and routine.
Should we work hard? Absolutely. God has called us to give our best to Him in whatever we are doing. But in our planning we should also remember that we are humans and so should seek God for His emphasis over our schedules. Because sometimes less diverse is actually more focused, and more focused is frequently more effective.