sph-renewI was at home talking with my wife about this idea of renewing your passion for what you do. She’s a stay at home mom and so I thought she would be perfect to dialogue with about this topic. So out of our conversation I came up with 5 things that has helped us rekindle the passion for what we both love to do.

 

  1. Ask God to increase the desire. – I’ve learned that I lose when I strive for things in my own power. And sometimes I can start off allowing God to do things in my life, but then I think that I have to keep them up. I’ve gotta remember Philippians 2:13 - For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. This verse is saying to me “STOP and let God continue the work He’s started.” It’s also saying, I can’t do it properly with out him, and it becomes work and it drains you when you forget Philippians 2:13. I’m at my best when He has the wheel and I’m in the passenger with duct tape over my hands, feet and mouth. haha Ask God to increase the desire He gave you!!
  2. Celebrate the successes. – Sometimes I can get so caught up with what’s not going right, that I forget the countless times things have worked out for the better even when the situation looked impossible. I forget the blessings that have come out of the times of hardship. There’s an old hymnal my aunt use to sing called “Count Your Blessings”, and sometimes we need to just count our blessings. I have to remember that God isn’t just working in the good in my life but He’s also working through and in the bad. I need to think about those things and celebrate them. Celebrate the successes!!
  3. Redirect your focus. – We can sometimes find ourselves getting caught up in things that distort our focus. Whether it’s a problem with a volunteer, a parent that has become challenging or even leadership. Sometimes those things can sing louder than your assignment to the ministry. And we can allow it to become all about issue and not about what got us in ministry in the first place. We start to feel the weight and it squeezes the passion out of you. Redirect your focus back to what motivated you to do what you’ve been called to do. Redirecting your focus puts God back in view. And it reestablishes the assignment God has placed on your life.
  4. Do something different/new. – Sometimes it can be that you’ve been beating a dead horse. Change a few things up or look for ways to do things a little different. Sometimes it’s just getting excited about doing something different or new that rekindles the fire you once had!! Instead of having team meetings at the office try meeting at a park or try giving more responsibility away. Sometimes we can’t think/dream of what could be different or new because we are too busy maintaining. Look for new or different ways to do things.
  5. Hear and share stories. – Sometimes you can feel like you’re on an island and no one understands what’s going on in your world. You need to be able to hear and share some stories with people that know your world. There’s nothing worse than isolation for someone who has been called to care and be super relational with people. YOU NEED COMMUNITY!! Two years ago I took my first trip to Simply Youth Ministry Conference and it was like a breathe of fresh air. I believe the one thing that SYMC offered that I gained the most from was community. The random conversations I had with people from all over the country were life changing. It reminded me that God is everywhere changing lives and not just in my bubble of ministry. I think I left with more passion for ministry than I started with. I want to encourage you to come, but more so I want to encourage you to find community in ministry.

A lot of times the enemy wants to trick us into thinking that because our passion is not as strong as it was when we started that it means we are in the wrong profession. I had to learn not to make more out of simply needing to renew my passion. My wife and I came to the conclussion that at some point we all need to be renewed no matter what you’re doing. Just because a car needs a tune up every once in a while, does not change the fact that it’s a car. It’s the same with us.

I know there are definitely more than 5, so what helps you renew your passion for ministry??

hope it helps

ac

 

“What do I do when the former youth pastor is still attending our church?”

I get this question from time to time and have actually had to work in this environment in both of the churches I’ve served in over the past 20 years. A couple days ago I talked about how thankful I am for the supportive role of the former youth pastor at my church, Doug Fields, and how life-giving his role is to me. I hope to be the same way someday when someone succeeds me.

But what do you do when things aren’t so great? What do you do if the former youth pastor is NOT supportive of you or how you run the youth ministry? Glad you’re back for more!

Realize the difficult situation they are in
It is easy to focus on yourself in this situation – but take a second to think about them! They gave up leading something they loved and potentially had some success in. They moved on (maybe promoted, burned out or were asked to leave the role) but a piece of them stayed behind. Maybe they aren’t so happy in their new role in the church, or didn’t want to go in the first place. They are in a tough position and a wise person will empathize with their situation and not just focus completely on yourself.

Involve them in the youth ministry
Consider putting them in an advisory role in the ministry. Consider asking them to “consult” with you once a month over coffee or a Coke. A relationship is key to building a bridge between the two administrations. Communication is critical to head off problems at the pass. Ask yourself what could be done to minimize the competition and comparisons between the two of you?

Ask directly for their support
I think building bridges is key to bringing someone to your side. Someone has to make the first move! If you’re not ready to bring them onto your team (I get that!) at least reach out and ask for their support in where you’re taking the ministry. Remember that reconciling a situation like this speaks volume to your leadership, humility and is certainly going to be eagerly watched and modeled to your youth group kids.

Have the difficult conversation
Sometimes you just have to have a face-to-face dialogue about the tension. You might be a long ways from consulting with them and maybe asking for support has been a dead end. Time for a conversation, possibly mediated by your supervisor or the senior pastor. This is a tough one, but things that need to be said are better said in front of each others faces rather than behind backs.

Honor their legacy
Pay for their kids to go to camp. Give him or her special access and the VIP treatment. Talk highly of them no matter what. Focus on the here and now rather than the old and wrong past. Besides, someone is going to follow you someday, too, and you want them to do the same!

Know it takes time to let go
This is going to take time. There’s no quick fix. Hang in there!

Had a hard time with this? What did you learn? Share in the comments and help someone in the middle of this difficult journey, too.

JG



Over Memorial Day Weekend, 2008, I became a minimalist.

My journey into minimalism was not entered into as a fad, experiment, or temporary life adjustment. Nor was it just for the purpose of moving, getting out of debt, traveling the world, or quitting my job. My decision to intentionally live with less was born out of my desire to line up my life’s pursuit with my heart’s deepest desires. It was about creating space for faith, family, and friends. It was a decision I knew would influence the rest of my life. And I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

Over the past five years, we have removed 60-70% of our personal possessions, we have moved into a smaller home, we have removed ourselves from the hollow race of American consumerism, and we have completely changed our habits of consumption. As a result, we have found more time for the things that are most important. In short, we have been finally able to start living the life we always wanted to live.

This journey towards minimalism has been far more life-changing than I anticipated. The possessions in our lives define who we are on a far deeper level than we know. And as a result, the process of removing them teaches us valuable truths about ourselves.

But the most important life lessons I’ve learned can be summed up like this:

1. Possessions weigh down our lives more than we realize. They are heavy and cumbersome. They slow us down. They demand our time, energy, attention, and focus. They need to be purchased, transported, organized, cleaned, sorted, fixed, and managed. They keep us from the ones we love and from living a life based on our values. Ultimately, they cause us to lose our life rather than find it. Life is indeed better with less.

2. Our lives are just too valuable to waste chasing possessions. Society has told us our greatest dreams should consist of “doing well in school, getting a high-paying job, and buying a really nice house with lots of cool things.” That is a shame because we can dream bigger dreams. We can dream better dreams. Our lives can be far more valuable than the things we own. Our lives are meant to be built on the things that really matter: love, faith, hope, charity, relationships, influence, significance, spirituality…. not the physical things that will always perish, spoil, or fade.

3. Living with less provides the freedom to pursue our greatest passions. The removal of excessive possessions and the intentional decision to live with less offers countless benefits. In exchange for removing the clutter, we are rewarded with newfound finances, time, energy, freedom, and mental capacity. Our lives are lived with less stress, less anxiety, and less burden. Our finite resources become more available to us… and we are freed to pursue our greatest passions—whatever they may be.

4. The external decision to own less has a positive impact on our journey inward. Owning (and buying) less has allowed my heart to change and adopt values I have always admired in others. Through the process, I have learned contentment, generosity, gratitude, self-control, honesty, and appreciation. These attributes were difficult to discover during the pursuit of more… but the intentional pursuit of less has allowed room in my heart for them to surface.

5. Jesus had it right all along. When I removed the accumulation and pursuit of possessions from my life, Christ’s teachings on money and possessions began to take a new hold on my life. I began to realize his teachings to “sell your possessions and give to the poor” and to “not hoard up treasures here on earth” are not instructions designed to make my life miserable while on earth. They weren’t given as some means of forced sacrifice on our lives. They are an invitation—an invitation to live a more abundant, meaningful life—just like everything else Jesus taught. This abundant life is available to anyone who begins to believe that Jesus knew exactly what he was talking about… even when he encouraged us to give away our possessions and pursue something greater instead.

Joshua Becker has served in Student Ministry for 14 years. He blogs at Becoming Minimalist where he encourages others to find more life by owning less. And his new book, Living with Less: An Unexpected Key to Happiness, is written to inspire teenagers and young adults to discover the simple truth behind Christ’s plain teaching on money and possessions.

  • What is this BURNING I feel in my chest?
  • Why are my teeth clinched and my fingers balled into a fist? Is this a brutal, but necessary, surgery? Or is it a brutal, but avoidable, violation?
  • Is this a bullet being removed to save my life or is someone looking for an internal organ to sell on the black market?
  • Is this the what it feels like to give up my pride? Or is this the sinister, sinking feeling that follows the surrendering of my passion?

Of course, Pride and Passion are so very different. Passion leads to serving others and Pride leads to serving self. Giving up either feels the same, even if the results are different. Loosing Pride creates dependence on God, losing Passion creates an apathetic life.

The world is filled with fuel for the fire of pride: “Look at what I have done! This is what I deserve! Here is where I am great!”

The world is also filled with leeches that drain passion’s power: “You are no good! You have no value! Know your place, don’t step out of line! Be afraid and be little!”

I have seen the passion fade, and there are few things more terrible than apathy. I have seen the sprinters stop running. Giving up their joy in order to take a seat on the sideline. It is not long before they roll over, and play dead or even just simply be dead.

Giving up pride is painful. Of course, it’s the only path to spiritual growth, to intimacy with God. Humility frees us up to stop managing our sin, accept grace, and move forward with trust and surrender.

These feelings and thoughts are the same, (at least they are for me): surrendering pride and giving up passion. Am I enduring hardship or caving in? Am I giving my heart to God or selling out my soul?

I have seen the zombies shuffle. The thing I fear most is becoming one. Zombies create more zombies. Administrators create more administration. Zombies can’t create life, and neither can micro-Administrators create leadership.

  • When I’ve lost my pride, I feel like lashing out in attack.
  • When I’ve lost my passion, I feel like laying down forever.

And perhaps here is where the knot is thickest: maybe loosing pride and passion often happen at the same time. The difference is not in the moment that it happens, but in the moments and days ahead. Which is it that we choose to add back into our hearts, pride or passion?

Perhaps there are times when we loose pride and passion at the same time, and our goal is to restore the passion without puffing back up with pride.

Pride is about receiving glory, being admired, understood, and respected. You can loose these things and still operate out of passion.

When the grinding moments come, step into the pain.

Suffer the indignity if you can stuff serve with the same fire that got you serving in the same place.

Matt McGill blogs a ton about youth ministry over on Love God, Love Students and was gracious enough to let me post these words here on MTDB. Check out his site and be sure to subscribe!



Do you know someone that has a job and you think to yourself, how on earth do you do that all day? I used to know a guy, who worked at a plant that took whatever parts of the pigs, chicken, fish and other animals that were not good enough for hot dogs. They would take these parts and add in deep fryer oil, feathers and who knows what else, boil them, heat them and do all sorts of horrifying processes to them and somehow render them into useful products and chemicals that they sell to other companies. I often asked him, how do you do that all day? He of course, really liked what he did, he turned waste in to useful things and loved it.

The strange part is, I have people ask me all the time, how do you work with teenagers? They are impossible! Its true, students can be really challenging to work with, they are often passionate, sometimes unreliable, regularly fickle, occasionally emotional and changing daily. I can see how youth workers tap out after a few years. When people ask me how I deal with working young people I will remind them, that it often starts with honouring their adolescence and appreciating the way they see the world. Here is a few ways we can do that as Youth Pastors.

Acknowledge their feelings: My life does not hang in the balance of the status of my friendships or what my friends think of me but there was a time in my life where I did feel that way. So when a student comes with their world crashing down over a problem with a friend, telling them to get over it likely won’t help. Acknowledging that you understand how they could feel that way, but also following up with some sound Biblical perspective on the challenges they are facing.

Harness the Passion: High School students are passionate, its up to us to help them focus that passion. Whether into local missions work, justice projects, service or anything like that. Students have more time than money, we need to help them find ways to invest what they have in a way that is productive, God honouring and fruitful.

All of us were that age: When adults try and knock teenagers for being crazy about Biebs or 1 Direction I remind them about the Beatles or NKOTB. When parents talk about students listening to sexualized music I ask them if they remember anything about the movie Grease? I was a teenager, my parents were teenagers, Jesus was a teenager. We can not forget what the world looked like through the eyes of teenage us, our idealism, flippancy and constant wonderment of “who is going to be there” before committing to anything. We were not that different.

Its so important that we as leaders not dismiss the challenges of teenagers as trivial or inconsequential, but instead help them navigate, and understand what scripture says about what they are going through and help them realize that there is more to life than this, but we can understand why at this point, they might not see that.

-Geoff (Twitter) 

If every teen you ministered to were the same, life would be easy.  But, each person that walks in through the door is different.  They are different by things in and out of their control and when you can embrace what makes them unique it will lead to some dynamic and powerful ministry.

Chances are there is at least one family in your church with a child who has special needs.  It can be an intimidating situation to approach because it’s something you’ve never prepared for facing.  You are conflicted because you want people to know that you are loving and open; however, you also don’t want to disrupt the flow of how you do ministry.

I’ve been blessed to have ministers and a coworker with a special needs educational background who have shown and challenged me in creating capacity for special needs in ministry.  Three pieces of advice that they have shared with me is to:

Find People With Passion – You care for special needs teens just as you care for any teen that walks in through your door; however, there are people in your community who are passionate for them.  What you want to do is plug these adults into your ministry as small group leaders or mentors.  Have them bridge the gap and kill any stereotypes or suspicions that the teens or other adults might have.  Pick their brains and learn from them so that you can be more educated on the subject.

Be Inclusive – Certain special needs provide certain limits; however, that should not prevent you from inviting them to be a part of your ministry.  If they are high functioning you really won’t notice much of a difference.  If they do require assistance ask their parent or another minister to give them direct support.  Either way don’t close them out because it’s complicated, embrace the relationship and allow God to lead.

Communicate With Parents – Every parent (whether of special needs or not) wants their child to fit in.  When you talk to the parent of a special needs child, chances are they will want to work with you because they want what is best for their kid.  Allow them to give you wisdom on their situation and insight on how to handle other teens.  Learn what might trigger their teen to be more comfortable or distracted.  Get to know their individual child so that you know how to best serve and guide them.

How you minister to that child and their family will depend on what the need is, who the parents are and what resources you have available.  But, if you truly want to be a ministry for Christ you need to make sure it’s filled with God’s unconditional and accepting love.  It might be a challenge to have special needs in your ministry; however, it’ll only make you better.

How are you approaching special needs in your ministry?  If you aren’t why?

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more about his ministry and life on his excellent blog Marathon Youth Ministry. 



Before I was a Youth Pastor, I was a volunteer in the same ministry I work in now for a decade, loving and serving High School students week in and week out and pouring myself into them and trying to point them to Christ. It was a passion, to see them grow in their Faith and grow as people, learning to be in the world and live a life for Christ. It took time and effort to be a part of, but it was life giving, and having the opportunity to see God moving in my small group was a privilege.

The Bar has always been set pretty high in our ministry when it comes to expectations of our team but I am sensing that it is time to consider how to raise the bar again to a level that I think is unapologetically high, but attainable, and it all starts at the top.

Don’t ask for more than you would give: In the first 7 years of being a volunteer at our Church I missed Youth 3 times, which I recognize is extreme. But the reality is that if I am going to ask my team to prioritize their week around investing their time at our program week after week, its important that I am able to model the high standard that I ask of them.

Volunteer like they do: Youth time is not work time. I ask our volunteers to give up 6 hours of their week including our weekly program and connecting with their students mid-week. If I am going to ask them to give up their free time to serve our students, I am willing to do the same and don’t count our youth night as paid time but as volunteer and shows that you value their time as you do your own.

Students deserve the best: Warm bodies are filler at best, but as the spiritual leaders of our flock, they deserve the best volunteers you can find to lead small groups, worship and any other event. They need Christ focused adults who model a healthy spiritual life and spur them on to do the same and our time with these students is too short to settle for less than the best. Allowing people to serve half heartedly can’t not only be discouraging to other leaders, but detrimental to their students when your committed leaders are constantly filling in the gaps each week. Recruit and train the best leaders you can find.

Make Time For Leaders: If we ask our team to connect with their students during the week, then I need to make time to connect with our leaders. Whether it’s a coffee or a McDonalds breakfast, face-to-face connection, encouragement and discussion goes a long way to keeping your team engaged.

God honours commitment: I truly believe that God honours commitment, and that we can and should ask our volunteers to be 100% in, that their Yes be their Yes. There is nothing more disappointing than a small group leader fizzling out half way through the year, but outlining and modeling the expectations will go a long way to building a culture of longevity in ministry. Longevity encourages longevity and some of the most fruitful youth ministries I have seen have been lead by Pastors invested long-term in the lives of students.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.

If you are into sports, you might be able to relate to what I am talking about. I personally am a huge hockey fan, I love the Vancouver Canucks and watching hockey is something I really enjoy doing. But this year I have realized that my passion is just not healthy, in fact arguably sinful. I am certain that I am not the only person that gets wrapped up in sports, but when I hadn’t eaten for 24 hours leading up to an important game God convicted me in a big way about this obsession.

The combination of stress, joy, malnutrition and unusually high heart rate should have been a dead give away that something was amiss, but when my brother brought me home a T-shirt from the game that read “this is what we live for” that I realized just how wrapped up I was. Could it be, that this is what people including me are living for? A seasonal passion for a sports team, and how could it be, that I could get so wrapped up in it. I wasn’t hungry on game days, I was grouchy when they lost, pumped when they won, its not right.

But what about the thing that is most important in my life, where is my undying passion for that, and that is where it hit me. I was in over my head and more invested in sports than my ministry and here is what I have been praying God would do in light of this deep conviction that I had let a sports team become an idol.

1- That God would help me to be more excited about what He is doing in the lives of our students than how my team is doing in the playoffs.

2 – That I would be as passionate about seeing hearts won for Christ as I am about games won by my team.

3 — That I would be living for something that matters and that passion would be obvious to my students, leaders and others, saved and un-saved.

In the age of Facebook our lives are more transparent and students can easily see what we hold highest and its really easy to let other things upset what should be a clear hierarchy of priority and I am sure that many of us have been in the same position. If you are someone that gets easily wrapped up in things other than His Kingdom, ask Him to work that out. It’s been a great week as God has worked on my heart to make sure its pointed to Him.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.