Working with young people and their families is a blessing as we share the love of Jesus with those in our congregation and community. It’s a gift to be a part of the greatest, most joyful, moments of the lives of those we serve. Celebrating life milestones, graduations, birthdays, and more fill this soul work with happy thoughts & memories.

At the same time, the vocation of youth leader isn’t easy. We walk alongside people in times of trauma, grief, hurt, struggles, and so much more. Not only do we walk along people experiencing the brokenness of this world, but we walk with people who are broken. Ministry leaves us open to intense wounds inflicted by others (and ourselves) in fits of anger, fright, and arrogance.

Whether you are a paid-worker or a volunteer in ministry, the charge of ministry is draining. A great ally during when ministry is a drain are hobbies. But what is a healthy hobby? What does a healthy hobby look like? Here are three marks of healthy hobbies:

1. Healthy Hobbies help us R-E-L-A-X

Healthy hobbies shouldn’t make us more stressed out. After defeating the prophets of Baal, Elijah didn’t need MORE stress. He needed – and was given by God – rest (1 Kings 19:5b-7). Hobbies should be a way to unwind, to find rest, maybe even relief from the day-to-day of life & ministry.

2. Healthy Hobbies help us Learn New Skills

In college I heard, “be a life-long learner” so many times I ignored it. But it is so true! Learning new skills is a rewarding thing. These new skills could never be used outside of our hobby, or they could be used in our ministries& day-to-day life. Hobbies are a great way to continue learning, and healthy hobbies help us learn.

3. Healthy Hobbies help us Recharge

This is a little bit different than relax. Hobbies help us recharge our social, emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual batteries. Here’s an example: I work out at least 3 times a week. But saturated in sweat isn’t always recharging or rewarding. Sometimes it’s a drain & strain for me to work out. I don’t work out to feel recharged (although that does happen at times). I work out because I know it’s good for me. Healthy hobbies help us feel recharged and ready to get back into our day-to-day with renewed energy & focus.

You may be saying, “I already knew that! Why is this guy writing for YouthESource?!” I get it, because I had college professors and mentors tell me the importance of healthy hobbies and what they look like as I was getting into ministry. But I struggled deeply finding the right hobby for me. I spent my first three years of ministry thinking my hobbies were watching T.V., playing video games, and cleaning the apartment. It wasn’t until my wife looked me in the eyes and said, “You need a hobby, dude,” that I realized I had ZERO healthy hobbies.

Maybe you’re in the same boat I was. Here are three helpful questions to ask that can help you find hobbies that work for you:

What brings you Sabbath Rest?

Sabbath Rest is most definitely rest that is found in God. Are your hobbies leading you to time with God and the good gifts He has given us? For me, I find Sabbath Rest walking the golf course. I’m able to talk openly with God one-on-one. When I golf with my wife, we spend time talking about how God is at work in our relationship & what He is leading us toward. Even the worst round of golf is a good round of golf because I was spending time doing something I love with the One who loves me infinitely more.

 What do you want to learn?

Is there a skill or activity you have always wanted to try? For me, I was always interested in podcasting & creating YouTube videos. From those two things I have learned the importance of clear audio, editing, lighting, and so much more! Maybe you’ve been interested in joining local theater. Or perhaps you want to learn how to shoe horses. Pursue those inclinations and you may just find a hobby for you – maybe even a hobby that you learn a great deal from!

What helps you feel Energized?

Again, this is different from rest. Recently, my wife and I took a short two-day vacation to Madison, WI. It’s just a two-hour drive for us, and it was a great weekend. We slept in, moseyed around, and ate too much. I certainly rested while there, but on the ride home I realized that I wasn’t particularly energized. The same happens for me when I binge and entire season of Parks & Rec. during a day-off. I’m rested, but I’m not recharged or energized. What helps you recharge? Are you introverted or extroverted? Are you energized by being creative (usually I am), reading a good book, or doing something active? Do those things!

Healthy hobbies are a great ally in ministry. It may seem difficult to find the time and energy for these hobbies, especially as a volunteer youth leader, but they will pay back big dividends. I pray you can find & cultivate healthy, God-pleasing hobbies to aid you in times of joy and stress. Share this article with others in your circles to help them find ways to rest in God’s love, learn new skills, and recharge for greater service to Him.