It happens to the best of us. It happened to me yesterday. And if I’m honest maybe the past couple months. Any of these ring a bell with you – some have felt pretty familiar to me in my youth ministry experience!

  • getting paid less than equals
  • little to no website exposure
  • higher expectations of you than others
  • total absence in the bulletin
  • budget cuts … again
  • note getting credit
  • feeling invisible in your church
  • they still won’t let me hire an assistant
  • not getting enough resources
  • spouse expectations
  • we’re growing while the church is dying
  • the scape goat for everything
  • unsupported by the leadership

So we become martyrs. We resign ourselves that these feelings are the underpinning price of being faithful. That doing God’s work just isn’t fair and this is our lot in life. Crybaby. Pity party.

  • Take a few minutes and think about where you’re feeling sorry for yourself. Journal a few thoughts about your fair and unfair comparisons and the trap you have fallen into.
  • The blame game has no winners, only losers.
  • Confess where you are playing the martyr.  Martyrdom will always suck passion and create tension.
  • Believe you are not a victim. Victimization will only give you excuses instead of results.
  • You are not constantly suffering. You are actually alienating yourself from the leadership who is trying to do the best job that they can.

What would you add to either list?


youthpastordiet was a random idea I had one Thursday night and 2 weeks later almost 75 youth workers jumped onboard to host a friendly 90-day competition to help youth workers get in shape. We lost like 1 kajillion (that’s kajillion with a “k”) pounds and many have asked when we’re going to do it again. Well … here we go! Want to get in on Season 2? It starts on Monday! Here’s the gist:

  • no cost to enter! UPDATE: the Weight Loss Wars site I’m using to host the contest costs $10 to use if this is your 1st time using their site
  • weight loss is based on percentage lost
  • 90 day weight loss window, April 1 – July 1
  • prizes for the Top 10 place finishers
  • Top 3 are going to be worth playing for, I promise!

Want in on Round 2? is the place to register NOW!


Just created a random list of possible benefits you might be offered. Wondering which one would be the most valuable to you right now!


I was standing right outside of our sanctuary waiting to wish our church members farewell after the morning service.  Our pastor had just delivered a gauntlet of a message and you could tell that emotions were high.  As the crowd came out, an older man marched right up to me and stopped about 5 inches from my face.  My first thought?

Here we go again.

He proceeded to chew me out, criticize the pastor and tear apart our church.  It was awful.

Anytime you face criticism you have two choices.  You can allow it to control you or you can control it.  The way you face criticism is not by fighting back but by:

Embracing The Situation: Don’t recoil or hide, just lean in.  Listen and acknowledge the person’s emotions.  You don’t have to defend yourself right away or apologize, just accept that this is happening.  When you acknowledge a problem it’s easier to deal with it.

Affirming Their Feelings: Best way to diffuse anger is to kill them with kindness.  First step is to affirm that they are being listened to.  Repeat back to them any emotions or feelings that they’ve expressed.  When someone is angry and takes it out on someone they want to know that they are being heard.

Take A Moment: While you might be ready to fight back, be sure to take your time to respond.  Speak slowly, use short sentences and ask God to lead you.  The problem with conflict is we tend to run into them headfirst.  Slow down and take the time to respond to the situation.

Follow Up: After you have allowed them to vent and, have affirmed their emotions, invite them into a further discussion.  Whether it’s making an actual appointment or giving them permission to email or call, show them that you care.  If it’s serious they’ll follow up and chances are it will be a constructive conversation.  If it’s a reaction to something happening outside their relationship with you, chances are they’ll calm down on their own.

Anger, and frustration from others is not easy to deal with.  It can be debilitating and demoralizing.  It’s important to remember that not everyone who is angry is coming after you.  Instead you have to see that people are coming to you for help and assistance.  Don’t take it personal; instead use it to build trust.  Help them diffuse the anger and show them compassion.

How do you diffuse anger?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)

Sometimes it’s maddeningly difficult to discern where in the world God is taking you. Other times, it’s painfully clear to see where He’s leading. I’m stuck in a furious limbo between the two. So where does that leave me? or lead me rather?

This past September, I just finished out a summer internship with Saddleback Student Ministries worship (Cluster of Students). Before the fall semester started, I was asked by the worship pastor if I’d like to continue interning through the year. I decided to think and pray about it before giving an answer, and after a couple weeks of prayer and counsel I didn’t have total peace about continuing as an intern. As a result, I did what I thought was best for me.

I ignored the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Sure enough, I could feel fatigue setting in. I was spread thinner than a crepe (those really thin pancakes). Between all of the responsibilities that I had, I can’t believe I knew which day was which. It’s funny how tightly we hold onto our own plans. Let’s face it though, we all do it. God says “No,” and we say, “sweet, I was thinking yes too.” By the grace of God, He redeemed the next few months for His glory, like He always does. He also convicted me and the pastor that I was working with that God wanted me elsewhere. We communicated after heavy prayer, and we both heard the same thing. He knew that I couldn’t be a key contributor everywhere. He KNOWS what you need.

What an example of God’s conviction and His grace! I disobeyed; He redeemed it. Next time you find yourself at a crossroads, between decisions (Del Taco or Carl’s Jr?), here are a few things that you can do first to save yourself from your plans.

Ask Your Dad . . .  your heavenly one. Trust me, He has a better way. We don’t consult God because we want to include Him in OUR plans as if we have any idea what we’re doing. We invite God in because HE has a better plan than we do, and He wants to guide you for your benefit.

Address Your Sin . . . like I didn’t. I desperately wanted to be, well wanted. As soon as I found out that somebody wanted to work with me for the next year, I had an opportunity to fulfill that insecurity. Instead of listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I listened to that little voice that craves the approval of people. Sin has a habit of blinding you to the picture that God is painting. It’s a beautiful picture, it’s worth seeing.

Abide . . . in the vine. Allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the joy and peace of God. He has an abundance to give, and He wants you to overflow with it. Be in the word, be in fellowship, and be in REST. Practice sitting in your room or on a couch, and soaking in the Lord’s presence. No pretense, no rules. Just soak. Some hang time with your creator will make any decision sound much less daunting.

Chance Espinoza is a college student from Orange County that loves Jesus, music, and eating breakfast until he falls asleep. He has been serving in youth ministry for 7 years with a heavy heart for worship and creativity.

Running on Empty?

Josh Griffin —  March 1, 2013 — 1 Comment

article.2013.02.12We know the feeling well. The energy of the fall is gone, seniors are already starting to head toward the door, and you’re questioning your own sanity because you were the one championing the junior high overnighter this Friday night. What do you do? You’ll need to find what is right for you, but here are a few suggestions to help you push through the funk.

Take an hour.
Sometimes you just need some space to clear your head for an hour or so. Go for a walk. Journal. Be silent. Exercise. Get a haircut that you haven’t had time for…you’re starting to resemble John the Baptist. Look at your Outlook calendar right now and make and appointment with yourself.

Take a personal day.
Not everybody has the luxury of being able to sneak away for an entire day…but if you do, DO IT! An entire day of rest, relaxation, reading, reflecting and rejoicing might be just what the good doctor ordered. Of course you CAN do things that don’t start with the letter “R” but they probably won’t be as rewarding (see what we did there…another “R” word).

Get some sleep.
When you’re robbing yourself of sleep at night, you’re robbing yourself of energy the next day! Put down the controller, step away from the refrigerator, and find a pillow with your name on it. If your MacBook has sleep mode, you should too.

Clear the calendar.
In some of the most extreme cases, the wisest thing you can do is slow everything down. Trim the calendar. Slash the calendar. Talk to your supervisor about changing office hours expectations. Cancel that thing that has you stuck.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

In a casual sense, the term “entitlement” refers to a notion or belief that oneself is deserving of some particular reward or benefit. (Wikipedia)

I am entitled. So are you, I’d imagine?

Time to put the brakes on it. You don’t deserve anything. Not your position, your salary, your status, your youth room or your budget. Why do we act like it? How did we become so arrogant, above the people we are supposed to be serving? I see it in myself (still, sigh) and I see it in younger youth workers all of the time. We get easily frustrated at a big church decision that affects us in a way we don’t like. We blow off guidance or shrug at counsel because it would be inconvenient to our beloved methods. We get an out-of-whack sense of importance about who we are and how blessed this church is to have us running this incredible youth ministry for them while they slowly decline into irrelevancy.

Stop! Be thankful for what you have, however much or however little it is. Thankfulness is an expression of humility. Be thankful for the little youth budget you did get. Be thankful God is blessing another ministry in your church and you got kicked out of your own youth room. Be thankful for your leadership God chose to put over you (I’m sure He would love to put you there, but you’d think you were entitled to it anyhow). Say thank you when someone generously blesses you. Slow down enough to respond to someone in need rather than only thinking about yourself.

Being thankful keeps your heart … and your entitlement … in check.


I was watching a children’s ministry podcast this past week and heard a great question – as a youth worker, do you like your children’s pastor/leader? Thought it was an interesting question, watch their podcast for lots more on the subject but first vote in today’s poll!