Student pastor shares tips for maintaining summer sanity

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Student pastor shares tips for maintaining summer sanity

By Cody Hensley

Everyone speaks of summer with hope of rest, excitement of travel and time to enjoy their favorite hobbies or pastime. But as a student pastor, I have to take a deep breath when I hear the word “summer.”

Summer provides some of the most fun and fruitful times in ministry. We often see our student ministries grow in community and unity. We’re able to build stronger relationships with our students. Camps, retreats and missions trips provide accelerated spiritual growth and some of the greatest memories we and our students will have.

But as great as summer is, it also can be one of the most exhausting seasons in our ministry.

If we’re not careful, summer may overwhelm us.

Here are a few tips to help avoid the summer burnout.

  1. Get ahead of the chaos.

Spend time mapping out your summer. Include every event, trip or meeting that will fill your summer schedule.

Then take some time to observe the busy and relaxed parts of your summer. Analyzing your calendar will help you know how you need to prepare mentally, emotionally and physically.

If there is a long week ahead, then maybe you need to plan for a break before and after. If you realize you only have one day in any particular week that is unaffected by church work, be sure to protect it.

The busiest or longest stretches will catch us off guard, and we won’t be emotionally or spiritually prepared. Our opportunities for rest will arrive, and we’ll waste them because we weren’t ready for the opening in our schedule.

If we don’t plan breaks, then they often don’t happen. And during the summer, they need to happen.

  1. Keep boundaries in place.

Our students often have fewer restrictions on them during the summer months. They don’t have to get up or go to sleep at any particular time, and many of them will have the freedom to do whatever they want, whenever they want.

You do not. You likely have church responsibilities that go beyond the student ministry. More importantly, you likely have a family for which you bear great responsibility.

During the summer, it can be easy to go along with the spirit of your students and allow events to go late or spur-of-the-moment hangouts to occur at random times throughout the week. Some of these should happen. Innumerable moments of great ministry have been done whenever things are unplanned.

But keep boundaries in place that protect your time with the Lord and with your family.

  1. Get your mind right.

Your perspective will often be one of the greatest determinants of how your summer is going.

We also tend to see what we want to see. If we are pessimistic or fearful of the summer months, we’ll likely wind up drained by all of the hardest parts of summer.

But if we see the summer as an opportunity for Kingdom work, where students are drawing closer to Jesus and being mobilized for the Great Commission, then we’ll be more likely to endure the grind of summer because we know it’s worth it.

This might be the most challenging task to accomplish on this list, especially after the coronavirus. It’s hard to predict how summer will go, and we may not have the same results as previous summers.

We may have fewer students at our events, and many of them are likely struggling spiritually.

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we have to measure our ministry based upon our faithfulness to God’s call upon the church to make disciples of all nations.

When you’re in the weeds of summer, it can be hard to see any way out or make good decisions in it. Plan now so that the rest of your summer can be healthy. Summer can be a great time of ministry if you prepare in a way that helps you avoid the summer burnout.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Cody Hensley is pastor to students and families at Glynwood Baptist Church, Prattville. This article is adapted from a post at Read the full post at