Your Questions Answered! – by Ian & Helen McIntosh

In this edition of Your Questions Answered!, Ian and Helen McIntosh tackle one of the big questions they’ve often been asked by other Navigator staff:

How do we best care for ourselves while caring for others? 

This is particularly relevant given our Covid-19 lock-down situation, both for us and those we are serving. Here are six principles which I believe are fundamental;

  1. Routine. Ministry life can be hard to structure and all absorbing. Structure your daily time as much as you can and don’t let it absorb you by guilt and the feeling you have not done enough. You never can do enough. Ask “Lord, what would you have me do today” and write it down. The “art form“ of ministry is to leave work and fully engage with family, then leave family and fully engage with work. Do not blend then.
  2. Cultivate your devotional life. Don’t just rely on a Bible Study that you prepare for others or even yourself. Take time to hear God’s voice for yourself and how He wants you to develop. John 15:5
  3. Develop your emotional life. Ask the Lord to reveal to you what you are feeling and journal about it; about yourself, others, and situations. Ask the Lord about these. They will affect you, like it or not. Luke 6:45.
  4. Prioritise physical exercise. Good exercise is essential to stay on top of life and ministry. Work out what best works for you and slot it into your daily routine.
  5. Social activity is essential. Not everyone in ministry will click with you. Have some people outside as well who you can “be off duty with,” who you enjoy and who enjoy you.
  6. Have some confidants and encouragers around you who believe in you, what you are doing and who will ask good questions of you. ”Burn out” is very common in ministry and one of the things I see too much of.

Ian is National Director of Staff Care, based in Sydney, NSW, for the Australian Navigators. His wife, Helen, supports his ministry in administration, workshops and by ministering to women staff. Learn more about them here.

This article was first published in Compass, Winter edition 2020.

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