I recently came back from my honeymoon, and boy, was it a rude awakening to be back in the real world. Marriage is the easiest it will ever be on your honeymoon, and when the honeymoon’s over and you’re back to the daily grind, you can find yourself in a bit of a rut.
So it is with the other “honeymoon phases” of life - the honeymoon phase of your walk with Jesus, the honeymoon phase with a new car or house, the honeymoon phase after the birth of a new child, and, as we’ve all experienced, the honeymoon phase of a new job.
The honeymoon phase of your job is particularly relevant to church staff members because you’re so connected to the cause and mission of your job. You remember that phase in your church or ministry job – or maybe you’re in it now. You’re excited about your new church, your new position, and your new church staff. The horizon is promising, and you’re going to make a big difference and help the church win more souls for Christ. It’s truly a unique season and should be savored.
But, inevitably, the real world hits. You’re not making the difference you thought you would make. Maybe there’s a fellow staff member or two you don’t get along with. Your day is filled with mindless tasks, not life-transforming conversations. The disillusionment can hit church leaders particularly hard, and that can eventually lead to burnout. The grass starts to look greener in other pastures. What difference am I making? Why am I doing this again? Maybe I’d do better at a different church?
Wait a minute. Let’s consider this prayerfully and thoughtfully. The grass is rarely greener elsewhere, and everyone goes through this. So how can we combat this rut when the excitement and momentum disappear?
Here are seven ways to maintain or improve your church job satisfaction after the honeymoon phase.
1. Stay involved.
When you’re experiencing job tensions or dissatisfaction, the most natural inclination is to begin to withdraw from your coworkers. While this is a self-protection instinct, it’s one you should fight against.
Withdrawing will never improve your job satisfaction, it will only leave you feeling more disconnected.
Instead, continue to make yourself connect with those around you and attend staff events. The rut after the honeymoon phase will pass, and you’ll be grateful you maintained relationships with your fellow church staff members.
2. Challenge yourself.
A great way to break out of a rut is to take on new challenges. Take initiative and ask your supervisor about new responsibilities you would like to tackle.
3. Be aware of the season.
When you find yourself disillusioned, disheartened, or frustrated, remind yourself that it is just a season. Just as the honeymoon phase is just a season, so is any rut you face. Life is full of ups and downs, and God teaches us important lessons is both the good and the bad seasons. Every job, including church jobs, will also include these seasons of ups and down, peaks and valleys. Our job is to continue to run the race and fight the good fight even when we’re discouraged or irritated. Acknowledge the season and press on.
4. Change it up.
Often, we get in a rut because we’re doing tasks the same way every time. Stop and take a moment to consider new ways to complete tasks or solve problems. Try looking at your position and your duties with new eyes – what can you change about how you accomplish your goals?
5. Be intentional.
We can only affect change if we are intentional about it.
While there can be outside factors that influence job satisfaction, you alone are in control your mindset or how you react to being in a rut. Talk to your supervisor, be proactive, and do the things in this post. If you sit there waiting for your church job to improve on its own, it probably never will.
6. Focus on consistent productivity.
When you’re new in a church role, your excitement and fresh eyes give you a lot of momentum. But when the honeymoon phase is over, you find yourself stalling out. Where did that infectious momentum go? Rather than trying to re-create that new energy, change your focus from momentum to consistent productivity. Though we sometimes have sprints of fresh energy, work (and life) is a marathon.
7. Take a break.
Sometimes the best way to snap out of a rut is to take a break. Step back and get a breath of fresh air – both literally and figuratively. I once heard the advice that we need to rest one day a week (the Sabbath), one weekend a month, and one week a year. When’s the last time you had a vacation? Or truly rested on the Sabbath? If you’re a church leader and facing disillusionment and discouragement, is it time for a sabbatical? You might be in a rut merely because you haven’t maintained a healthy pace of life or work-life balance.
This article was provided by our church executive search partner, Vanderbloemen Search Group. To learn more about Vanderbloemen Search Group's recruiting services and how they can help you fill your open position, click here.