It happened again.

I watched someone get up to speak to a large audience. The total time of what was going to be said would’ve been about 15 to 20 minutes.

Just as I was getting ready to hear the message, I watched one of my pet peeves unfold.

waterbottleWater bottle swagger.

Why do some public speakers saunter up onstage with a huge water bottle and take swigs from it every five minutes?

Maybe I’m being unfair, because I’ve certainly had an occasion or two where I needed water. I was under the weather, perhaps, or had just been doing something loud and crazy before I spoke.

What I’m more referring to is how unnecessary this feels. It almost comes across as a status thing – like when you ask a friend if they can hang out… and they pause, slowly take out the latest smartphone, make sure you can see the model/logo, and then proceed to talk about how they have to check their calendar because of how busy they’ve been doing this or doing that.

Again, maybe I’m being unfair.

On the other hand, it feels like the people who should do this don’t seem to do this. I’m referring to the “big name” speakers who likely teach on a regular basis… people I’m never seen bust out any water bottle swagger even after a 45 minute message.

It got me thinking about other pet peeves in ministry circles:

  • The Spirit of Urination: When I (or someone else) gets up to teach or proposes a question for some audience interaction, and right at that moment a few people noticeably get up to go to the bathroom, as if the Spirit of Urination came upon that row all at once.
  • Recycled Rally Cries:> You likely know that “Youth aren’t the church of tomorrow. They’re the church of today!” Chances are you know it because it’s our standard go-to phrase when we feel like we’re supposed to say something profound about serving students.
  • “I Can’t Hear You!”: That awkward moment when my worship to God becomes about the worship leader having to hear me sing it a little louder.
  • facepalmBad Transitions: When one thing ends, be it a moment in a program or a song, and there’s a long pause before anything is said/done. Even worse, when in-jokes occur between one person and another and everyone else has to sort of wait on them to finish.
  • “Circling” Sermons: I’m all for someone making a great point in a message. I’m not a huge fan of having someone tell me what I need to circle in the notes or in my Bible. It’s like an old 20th Century way of begging for a retweet.
  • Critiques About Tithing: I’m so glad you’re walking with Jesus in such a way that you don’t feel “bound to the Old Testament concept of tithing.” I’m likewise aware that you wish we didn’t talk about money so often when the budget is in another crazy crisis. Meanwhile, my household is going to keep regularly and consistently tithing 10% of our firstfruits at the bare minimum and looking for ways to be generous beyond that… ways that draw attention to God and not ourselves. So quit telling me how much more mature you are for being random, and start supporting your church in such a way that it doesn’t have to beg you to do it or suffer when you’re taking such an enlightened approach.
  • anigif_enhanced-buzz-2917-1390416222-17Christian Wining: You know those folks in your church who drink wine all the time? So does everyone else, especially through social media. I’m not making a statement about alcohol here… but I am saying that it stinks when we have to talk to someone who’s turned off by how much carefree drinking an active person in your church does.

These are just a handful of my pet peeves. Maybe the fact that I have them is one of your pet peeves.

For that matter, what are your pet peeves in ministry circles?

worldaroundmeThe world doesn’t revolve around what you’re doing.

You wouldn’t consciously disagree with that, and yet it still seems hard to believe, doesn’t it?

  • It’s why you get frustrated with “clueless” parents.
  • It’s why you wish your church leadership would just “get on board.”
  • It’s why you yell when students are lacking in their “commitment.”

(Notice the words and phrases with the quotes around them. Maybe you don’t use these, but you likely have your own collection of “accusational grammar.”)

When you’ve spent chunks of your life on something you believe in, you hope it becomes viral. If everything fizzles and what you’ve been up to doesn’t become a part of the local social dialogue, it can be dishearteneing. You’ll take it personally, when in reality it just may be that the season was wrong or people were distracted by something else that they felt was more important (and it may have been).

It’s nothing short of difficult, which is why you’ll be tempted to do one of three things:

  • Walk off. You’ll eventually grow weary of the fatigue, politics or misunderstandings and find/create/justify a self-righteous reason to give up on the Divinely-righteous thing God called you to do. There will be rare occasions when this is God’s plan, but the majority of the time you will simply be tired and looking for validation to quit. Don’t argue with me on this – be honest, and let’s own this temptation.
  • Play the game. There’s likely a “system” that you can work within to get the margin or resources to do what you really feel called to do. Actors do this all the time, doing big budget movies to earn what’s needed financially/professionally so they can make independent films. Some call them sell-outs for doing it, while others ascribe value to their ingenuity.
  • Push through the disillusionment. Maybe what you’re experiencing is a matter of your own immaturity, which is way easier to see in others versus ourselves (raise your hand if you know a punk who doesn’t know how good he has it). On the other hand, maybe it’s more of an issue with legitimate roadblocks that are in front of you. Either way, you are not done… you are simply paused/stuck/stalled – and you don’t have to stay paused/stuck/stalled. You may never see the “thing” become “right,” but you don’t need to let that stop you from doing the right thing.

stalledcarPicture your ministry like a car that has a dead battery, a flat tire and is out of gas – you wouldn’t give up on the whole vehicle simply because of these hindrances. Even if you had to bust out your jumper cables 12 times in a week, you’d do it until you had the means to get a new battery; even if you had to replace all four of your tires, you’d replace all four of your tires; even if you were leaking gas from under your car, you’d find a mechanic who could work with your budget to fix it.

I dare you to quit saying, “Yeah, but…” – you’re better than that. There is greatness in you and the thing God has asked you to do.

The world doesn’t revolve around what you’re doing. It won’t ever, nor should it.

What you’re doing should help people revolve around God. The reason it’s so hard is the very reason why it’s ministry – there’s a need for someone to minister. If it was easy, God wouldn’t have needed you to do it.

So… how will you take a different path toward achieving what you seem to be struggling with achieving?

Feeding The Monster

 —  April 24, 2012 — 2 Comments

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with a fellow youth pastor named Landry who works at a Church in downtown Vancouver. Above is a photo I took as we walked around talking about life and the complexities and challenges of being in ministry (Landry really suffers for the Kingdom as you can tell). While we walked he expressed some frustrations with the other parts of ministry that often take time away from serving Youth. He was frustrated with the amount of meetings, the amount of bureaucracy and other elements that someone who is new to Church ministry might not know are part of the gig and he was simply looking for a healthy perspective on how to embrace it.

A friend of mine once referred to this as “Feeding The Monster”. He expressed his begrudging acceptance of attending board meetings, all-staff lunches, health and safety committee get-togethers and taking tickets at the Children’s department nativity presentation. For my friend it was not that any of these events was bad or had no value, but for each of us, we recognize that an hour spent doing something other than focusing on our students and leaders is an hour that we might not get back. This past week, on top of leading our student ministry, I preached at our main services, taught at our local Christian school and then did two funerals. It was hectic and exhausting but as I reminded Landry, its part of the deal.

When I get frustrated about meetings and pastoral requirements I have to remind myself of this:

The Youth Group Exists To Serve The Church, not the other way around. If it were not for the loving and prayerful generosity of the rest of the Church, our youth group would look much different. We exist as a part of the body of the church, to serve, support, encourage and be a part of all other ministries.

I Am Not Building My Own Church. When I put my head down long enough and focus, I can easily get in the mindset that my ministry is the only one, and convince myself it is the most effective. What happens is that I lose sight of that we are building The Church and if our goal is to have students successfully assimilate into the body, I need to be working with other departments to collaboratively plan for this to .

We Are Called To Be Pastors To The Whole Church. It took me a while to grow in my comfort level to pastoring people 2-3 times my age but as I have grown in that, I have watch God grow me in my patience and love for the older people in our church. Sadly there are weeks like this week where pastoring them means leading a memorial for two of them. Funerals are never easy, but it’s a role that I have grown into as the Lord has shown me that my leadership is wider than just leading our High School students.

The responsibilities that each of us take on outside of our specific roles can be frustrating and can seem like we are simply feeding the Church monster. But in reality its fulfilling our role as a pastor, and reinforces that we are a part of a much bigger story that is unfolding each week at our churches. The key is that we need to see it as a blessing to be a part of and not a burden to endure.

GS – Twitter