- We believe that taking regular time off helps maintain our youth worker’s passion and energy for his or her work with young people.
- We promise to actively encourage our youth worker to take at least one day away from their role each week to do something different.
When is a youth worker not “on duty”?
Of course, the answer to that is probably never: if there was a serious emergency or a special need, most of us would expect those with pastoral responsibilities in the church to respond, whatever time of day or night.
But this promise isn’t about those times when we know a good youth worker will be on hand. It’s about encouraging the kind of balanced life that will keep a youth worker physically and spiritually healthy. And that means taking regular time off to relax, socialise and do something other than ministry.
Being a youth worker is different from many jobs in that it overlaps with other parts of your life: in many cases your church is also your employer, your friends may also be your fellow youth workers, and you are likely to be contacted by parents, teens or other church members at any time of the day or night. Learning how to have healthy boundaries in place is crucial to the health of your youth worker and their ministry.
Sometimes churches, perhaps without realising, can make it hard for a youth worker to take a day off. For example, they might organise planning meetings or other events on the wrong day. Other times, youth workers are expected to run activities in the evening and so end up without a full day of rest. Sometimes they will add these extra activities themselves!
That’s why it’s important for churches to actively encourage youth workers to develop a healthy work/life balance and make sure the youth worker knows they are expected to take regular time off. Churches will also need to think about how they can make sure that the rest of the church recognises this. Although there’s always a huge amount to do as a youth worker, taking regular time off will help ensure the youth worker stays fresh and energised in their role, and that’s something every church should want to see!
Questions to consider
- Does the church monitor whether the youth worker takes time off regularly, and would you know if they were sometimes using their day off to do work? Does the church ever plan meetings they must attend on their day off?
- Have you told your youth worker you insist on their taking regular time off in addition to their annual holiday time? Do they know that it’s important to the church that they have a balanced life?
- Are church members, including the young people, aware of when the youth worker has a day off? Do they know that they should avoid disturbing the person on that day?
Ideas to help you meet this promise
- Ask those who manage the youth worker to ensure they have marked their annual leave time on the church calendar as well as to check regularly that they are taking at least a full day off each week.
- Organise another youth worker, perhaps one of the volunteers, to be “on call” during the youth worker’s day off in order to take any telephone calls or deal with emergencies.
- Use a service or small group session to explore the issue of work/life balance with the whole church and encourage everyone to think about the way they structure their lifestyle. This is an issue for everyone, not just the youth worker!
What your church needs to do
- The church needs to plan to take two actions in the coming year related to this promise. Those actions do not necessarily need to be the suggestions made above. They can also include things that the church has already done previously and is planning to continue to do in the coming year.