From time to time I hear youth workers lament that they need to take care of certain things that they don’t care about al all – but things their supervisor values.

They begrudgingly do this punch list of stuff only because they have to. Filling out that report, keeping the database up to date, attendance stuff, pastoral care logs – all of the mundane stuff of ministry that can wear a person down and make them wish for the days when they actually did minister to students.

Let me let you in on a little tip: if you don’t value what your boss values, you’re not going to last long at your church. Sure, you may get lucky and the boss ends up leaving in the next year instead of you, but chances are you’ll be the one looking up open youth ministry position’s in your spouse’s hometown.

So value what your boss values! If he or she asks you for the most mundane reports in the world … spend some serious time on them and make them great. Do what is required, and add in some additional detail they might find interest in, too. Not sure what they value? Take them out to lunch and find out! There’s a chance you’re wasting a lot of time on things that don’t matter to them at all or ignoring important tasks they are dying for you to pick up!

I’ll be back with more boss tips throughout the week – from successes and failures in my own ministry career. Some from as recently as last week! Argh.

Your turn: share one helpful boss tip in the comments now, too!

JG

Really enjoyed this take on time off, rest and sabbath from Doug Fields’ blog the other day. If you’re struggling with margin, balance and time away from ministry, read on:

Almost daily I get an email from a ministry leader who is tired and on the verge of burn out. There is so much about ministry-world that is exhausting. I understand this reality firsthand. It’s real and ugly!

Too many leaders don’t even slow down enough to be faithful to God’s call for a Sabbath rest.

When I was a young leader I received great advice from a mentor who urged me to faithfully guard and protect a weekly day of rest. I’m so grateful for that advice and encouragement! Without intentional action, it’s simply too easy for a leader to slip into justifying non-Sabbath actions like, I’m just going to pop into the office, or I’m so far behind, I just need to catch up or They need to spend time with me and I don’t think I can say no.

Sound familiar? Me too! Want to see how he approaches his day of rest? Head there for more!

JG




Would love to get your response in this week’s poll – when is the best time for your as a youth worker to spend time with God yourself? Lots of different options for you to choose from – vote now!

JG

Honestly, our ministry is going through a little bit of a crisis right now.

On the surface you wouldn’t see much out of the ordinary – youth group is fun and energetic, small groups are plugging along toward the end of the school year and the last big event had strong attendance and quite a few new faces. My boss seems happy, we may actually come in on budget this year and generally things are OK.

But under the surface, we’re dealing with some serious issues. God is choosing to bring us not 1, not 2 … but 6 big things to the surface right now. Some serious stuff we’ve got to process. Some stuff we haven’t dealt with before. Some difficult conversations that need to be had. Some stuff it is mandatory it be reported. The ugly side of real-life ministry is here in full force this week.

And you know what? God is faithful. God is changing lives. God is giving us wisdom. God is guiding. God is healing. God is providing. God is giving confidence. God is pruning. God is.

It seems like when it rains trouble … a flash flood of tough stuff isn’t far behind. If you are wading in some deep waters or think you may be in over your head, remember that God is there through it all. I know I could use the reminder right now, too.

That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

JG



 

dod-marriage-600x600

Love this new resource that is the discount of the week over at Simply Youth Ministry. 99 Thoughts on Marriage & Ministry - a book that looks to help young couples as they navigate these challenging waters. From the back of the book:

Ministry is such a rewarding experience, but why does it create so much strain on marriages? Jake and Melissa Kircher have learned some valuable lessons (often the hard way!) about building a healthy marriage amid the demands of ministry. They aren’t perfect, but they’ve matured individually and as a couple because of each mess, problem, heartache, and obstacle they’ve encountered. They understand your struggles and frustrations, because they’re their struggles and frustrations, too.

Today only – 58% off – just $2.50 each!

JG

“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



“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.

Sometimes the former youth pastor takes a promotion and ends up as a worship pastor or the director of a regional campus. Maybe they were a key volunteer holding together the ministry during transition until you stepped into the role. In larger churches, he or she might have been promoted to the Student Ministries Pastor and you take over a junior high or high school ministry. In any case, contending with the former head of a youth ministry you are now charged to lead can be unsettling, challenging or even painful.

I wanted to share a few thoughts today to help you as you process and live in this situation:

If the youth pastor is supportive
I had the privilege of serving under Doug Fields when he was the Student Ministries Pastor at our church. Now I get to carry on his legacy as the high school pastor. People always talk about the “big shoes” I had to fill and the pressure of following him. Doug has an incredible intuition – in just a few minutes he can spot weaknesses and offer ideas on how to come up with creative solutions to them. He is honest with me, he loves me and I know he makes our ministry better. That’s why I hang on every word he says – because of that relationship I know he cares about me as a leader, our high school ministry and wants what’s best for us both. At the same time he wants me to break the rules, challenge the methods of the past and move the ministry forward. He values what I value even if it is different from the way he did it.

A supportive former youth pastor who remains engaged can still be intimidating and challenging but it is one of the best gifts you can be given as a leader. Having a cheerleader and a fresh set of outside eyes is invaluable as you rarely look up from the trenches of day-to-day ministry. Being set up to win by the youth pastor who went before you is affirming and legacy-building. Thank God if you have one of these loving men or women in your church today.

If the youth pastor is not supportive … check back tomorrow for part 2!

Would love to know the situation you serve in and ideas you have to thrive in this environment, too!

JG


Enjoying Spring Break this week and wanted to throw out a poll question this week to see what you do for Spring Break, too. Vote now!

JG