For the past few weeks here on MTDB we have been going through a series about the 6 things our students must learn from watching our lives. When we preach on these topics, it needs to come from a place on integrity in our lives that we have been living out these values.

My life before going into ministry was very different than my life now. I was working as a general manager of a division of a company running a million dollar a year auto-shop. I was working from 7:30-6:00 M-F and one or two saturdays a month with 2 weeks of holidays. It was gruelling,  stressful and demanded tangible, measurable outcomes of my work and effort. There was no showing up late, there was no leaving early and working from home? Yeah right!

Pastors Can Be Lazy: As I transitioned into ministry where the schedules were flexible, the expectations were less measurable and the rigidness of time and place lessened, I began to notice something startling. I noticed that it was very easy to slack off and get away with it, to be lazy and have no one notice and my start time of 7am moved to 8:30 over a few months.  I meet youth workers all the time and many are hard working, diligent and focussed and others would have a hard time arguing they worked more than 30 hours of their 40 hour work week. If we understand 1 Corinthians 10:31 to say that whether we eat or drink that we do it all for the glory of God, you better believe that our work in the Church is an act of Worship.

A friend of mine who I would consider the hardest working Youth Pastor I know has built a culture in his team that even after serving all weekend at their youth conference, that he is the first guy in the office monday morning ready and working on the next youth night. I am inspired by people like this who work to honour God by serving the kingdom well. They understand that hard work can be contagious and his people need to see it in action.

There are lots of stereotypes about youth pastors and I am saddened that one of them is lazy and what is worse is that if you are lazy, your students are going to notice it. You set the culture of your team, your leaders and thus your students. Are you willing to stay late or show up early? On the same day?  Are you willing to go out of your way for the sake of a student or leader in need? Don’t reinforce the stereotype.

Don’t Take Advantage: It can be so easy to get to a place where we take advantage of the freedom extended to us and if you were really honest with yourself and counted your hours that you worked in the past month averaged out would you be below/above/right at what you think you work. We are broken people and can deceive ourselves into thinking that we are working more than we are. I have seen it on our staff team, and seen in countless other ministries and its disappointing that we take advantage of the calling to ministry for our own advantage. Students don’t always have the best examples at home when it comes to work, and I pray that students see my diligence of hard work as a better way to live.

Your leaders need you to work hard, your students need you to work hard and your church needs you to work hard. Your work is a worship to the King, give it your all.

I was in Houston a few months back and the lady at Enterprise Rent-A-Car said to my wife and I about our all-out road trip we were heading out on “Hey man, if you are going go for it, you better go for it” I like that, I am going for it. I am all in. How about you?

-Geoff Stewart @geoffcstewart

 

As we continue with our series on things that students need to learn from watching our lives we come to another important topic: Stewardship and Generosity.

Lets face it, you didn’t go into youth ministry to get rich, and we know that serving in any capacity as a Pastor or Youth Worker is not the highest paying gig, but its still the best job in the world.

But just because the pay isn’t great, doesn’t mean there’s an excuse for us wasting the resources we do have. I have met enough youth pastors who seem to have the latest and greatest gadgets and clothing yet complain that they are living pay cheque to pay cheque. Guess what, your students are watching this pattern as well. Stewardship is defined as the responsible management of resources and in the Christian world how we use our time, talent and treasure.

Time: Youth ministry is a crazy world with late nights, evening meetings, weekend retreats, the hours are all over the place. I often tell students that when I was young I had more time to give than money and now as an adult I have more money than time. For my students I believe it is essential that they see me serving at events and functions that are not a part of my ministry area and invite them to be a part of it. Whether its kids ministry, service hosting or just stacking chairs, your students need to see you serving the Kingdom. The purpose is not to be a show, but to invite students into serving others with a heart to see the Kingdom advance. Be a cheerful giver of your time, it will rub off on your students.

Talent: You are gifted, after all, you got hired! So what are you doing with it? How are you using your gifts to serve the Church? Your community? Students expect your best when it comes to your job but do you put the same amount of effort into the areas of your life you are not being paid to do? I am so inspired when I see youth workers serving as coaches, mentors, music teachers, scout leaders and many other unpaid volunteer positions where they can use their passions and interests to serve others. Social media communicates all aspects of your life and what you value and find important will come through loud and clear.

Treasure: This is the big one because it effects so much of your ministry. The way you manage your personal finances will often be reflected in how you spend your youth ministry budget. Questionable or wasteful spending on your personal or ministry budget will not allow for there to be funds left over for a rainy day or an unexpected expense. The question I wish I could ask every pastor I meet is: Do you tithe? For many, giving is often the first thing to go when money gets tight and poor planning and budgetting can mean our last fruits are what we give God not our first. Youth workers, we need to shape up here and be responsible for that which has been entrusted to us. When we can manage out finances well we are able to be more generous and we are able to mentor students to live a life of generosity. Help students see generous living as empowering, that they can be a part of supporting the work God is doing by giving.

I will be the first to admit that having all of these in order is not a simple task and that many of the challenges each of us face in these areas comes from how these were modelled for us when we were growing up. The call is simply for us to be obedient to God, that we would be generous with our lives and our resources and that students would be challenged by the way we live and seeing us give the first fruits of all we have.  It is not easy and I have made many mistakes, but God continues to show me areas where I can be more generous. I hope that our students can catch a vision of how empowering and addictive generosity can be.

Geoff – Twitter @geoffcstewart



We are embarking on a 6 part series of topics that we need to teach our students through our lives and actions. Students seeing them lived out first will bring integrity to the message we preach.

A few days ago I wrote a post about Conflict In The Internet Age and the growing reality of students who are lacking the skills or in many cases the desire to engage in healthy conflict or disagreement due to the messy nature of interactions like this. In addition to my previous post about a generation that doesn’t have to put up with anything they don’t like here are a few more considerations with conflict:

We Throw Away Things That Break: In my office at work I have a 1938 GE Console Radio (picture below). I love the craftsmanship that went into it. To think that every one of them was made by hand is amazing. No robots, not injection moulds, just hard working people putting tender loving care into it. My grandpa had one just like it and you know what he did if it broke or needed repair? He would load it in his car and take it down the road to the local radio repairman to have it fixed up. We used to fix things. TVs, VCRs, Toaster Ovens you name it, people fixed them. Last year my printer ran out of ink, I went to buy a new cartridge and sure enough, it was cheaper to get a whole new printer with ink in it, so I threw away the old one. If my computer monitor breaks it’s going in the garbage. My ipod? Garbage. My TV? Garbage. My Jeans? Garbage. When things break, we throw them away. So are we surprised when a friendship breaks down that students simply throw them away for a newer, better one?IMG_6568

We Celebrate Conflict, But Rarely Reconciliation: Celebrity gossip and sleaze is a multi-billion dollar industry employing countless people whose sole job is to get the latest dish on peoples favourite celebs. Conflict may not make them famous, but it sure can keep their name in the press. This culture loves a good fight and some good ol’ fashion smack talking. We celebrate the conflict, but how often does our culture celebrate reconciliation?

We Need To Be Champions Of Reconciliation: This is where we come in, where our lives need to reflect the values in Matthew 5 on forgiveness and reconciliation. How this is lived out will reflect our ability to be “the adult” when it comes to challenges with students. If there is a student you know who is frustrated with us, or with something we said we need to be on the front line of engaging them. Not because we want to be liked, but because like my grandpa’s old radio, it is worth the time and energy to fix it. Throwing it away might be easier, but the costs are high. Students need to see how we handle criticism, how we handle an angry parent, or a leader who is not leading well. When it comes to students who have been hurt by other students, it is our responsibility to equip them with the tools and provide objectivity so that they can work out their differences. This could mean very persistent and intentional communication with both parties to help them see the value in meeting. We must champion this value.

So What Do Students See In Your Life: Are you are the type of person that doesn’t get along with a lot of people? Are you a relational Tasmanian Devil going from person to person and not seeking to right your wrongs or ask forgiveness for your words or actions? Or are you a leader who can admit they were wrong, ask forgiveness of a student or leader when required. Are you a leader that will give up your time and make every effort to help a student navigate the deep valley of being hurt by a friend and walk them through a path of Biblical reconciliation?

We have enough of the first type of people, we need the second kind. We need humble leaders who aren’t perfect but can admit when we’re are wrong and whose lives reflect these values.

Are you modelling conflict and reconciliation well for your students? 

Geoff – twitter geoffcstewart