This past weekend thousands of youth ministers participated in the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. Â As a participant in the past few I know that feelings of empowerment and encouragement are flowing through this years attendees minds and souls. Â The reason these conferences can be such a powerful experience is because of the camaraderie and the opportunity to take a youth ministry “Time Out”.
The problem with a conference like Simply Youth Ministry is that it’s only a weekend. Â After a weekend of euphoria you are forced to go home and face:
- That hurting teen.
- A pastor you clash with.
- An angry parent.
- A semi committed ministry team.
Youth ministry is filled with hills and valleys. Â It’s like a long run with no end in site. Â The only way to get through it isÂ ONE STEP AT A TIME. Â To endure in this emotional, exhausting and journey that you and I call youth ministry you need to make sure you:
Network With Other Youth Workers: You can connect with these men and women at conferences, speak with your pastor or visit sites like the National Network of Youth Ministry. Â Build relationships with men and women who know what you are facing.
Set-up Limits: This means creating a schedule that protects your time at home and what is most important at work. Â It also means learning how to say “No” even if the opportunity seems incredible. Â Work within your limits and see how God will bless you.
Seek Personal Accountability: Â Find men or women in your church that you can meet with to talk about life, share goals and call you out when you are straying from what’s important. Â If you don’t know where to start, talk to your pastor, ask fellow youth workers or talk with one of your volunteers to recommend people.
Embrace The Moments:Â Everything that is good in your ministry is significant. Â When a teen invites a friend, quotes something from your message on Twitter or testifies in front of their peers, remember it. Â For all the bad in youth ministry there is so much good. Â As youth ministers you need to celebrate and share it with your coworkers, volunteers, parents, teens and other youth workers. Â It’ll remind you why what you do is worth it.
Observe A Sabbath:Â As a youth worker you need to find other ways of embracing the Sabbath outside of Sundays. Â While you might be at church it’s still easy to mix work with worship. Â Take a day where you spend it quietly with God or join a prayer group not associated with your church. Â If you can’t connect with God you’ll make yourself more exposed to Satan’s tricks.
Youth ministry is a battle because you are dealing with changing lives and relationships. Â To truly survive and thrive you need to rely on God’s strength and love. Â Invest in people who will invest in you and keep moving one step at a time. Â Your work, dedication and heart for the next generation is priceless, fuel it.
How do you endure the long haul of youth ministry?
Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)