My One Word for 2013

Josh Griffin —  January 16, 2013 — 2 Comments

I reviewed the new Jon Gordon book The One Word That Will Change Your Life last week and told you I would be writing more about the one word I chose to define 2013 in another post. Here’s the word, and here’s the why:


Belief in the people who serve with me
I’m so thankful for the people I serve alongside. They are the most passionate and faithful people I know. Doesn’t matter if I’ve served with them for years or they started on the team this week. I’m reminded of that when I see them in Starbucks with their crying student, celebrating at their basketball game and cheering them on as they come up out of the water during baptism.

Belief in our church’s ministry and mission
From time to time every youth workers gets an unsettling and unshakable gut feeling- I’m not sure I believe in my church anymore. This year I want to believe more than any ever before. I want to cheer on our pastor and the leadership and what we are all about. I’m “all in” for my church.

Belief in my calling as a youth pastor and equipper
I don’t need to say ‘yes’ to every ask, it is OK to have a callingfilter and I don’t need to be ashamed of having a laser-focus in my life and calling. I’m going to choose to believe that God can use a 38-year old youth worker for another year and that my mission can focus on students and youth workers.

Belief in my role as a husband and father
I know it is important and it is one of the pillars I live my life on – but I’m not going to cheat them this year. I’m going to believe that every moment is important (because it is) and when I’m not there I’ll miss out on an important shaping moment. I’m going to love my wife and kids unashamedly, no matter what guilt will be put on me by unhealthy expectations or leadership.

What’s your One Word for 2013?


I believe that the most effective student leadership programs (and ministries in general) are the ones that empower their students. And I mean, actually empower them. In youth ministry, empowerment is rooted in the belief that students can actually make a difference in their church, community, school, and even the world!

If we were to ask ourselves if we believe in students, believe that that they could change the world, most of us would say yes. However, if some of us were to really think about it, that might not be fully true. I think we might sometimes say yes out of habit or because we feel like we are supposed to, but the real answer lies in the actions of our ministry. We can say we believe in our students all we want, but if our ministry isn’t empowering students, than we might need to reevaluate our answer. For some, their ministry used to be powered by a belief in students but, somewhere along the way, empowerment got lost in the shuffle. For others, empowerment might not have ever been a main priority in their ministry. But if we want to see students serving their church and community, we need to make it a priority.

One of the first steps in getting a student to serve is getting them to believe in themselves, and we can’t expect students to do that if we don’t believe in them first. We need to believe that God has called and equipped the ENTIRE church to serve. Each of us has been gifted for ministry, even our students. Our student leadership programs, and our ministries as a whole, needs to communicate this belief. Where are we taking a chance on students? While it is awesome to let students pass out pens and bulletins at the beginning of service, we need to be providing significant opportunities. Sometimes this means letting go of a certain aspect of your ministry and allowing a student to own it. If you have a student that wants to be a pastor and has the gift of communication, let them speak at a weekend service. If you have a student that has a heart for the elderly and the gift of leadership, let them start and lead a elderly care ministry. At the end of the day, God believes in our students and our ministry needs to reflect that.

Does your ministry communicate to students your belief in them? Does it empower them?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.