Tag Archives: Faith

When it’s no longer any fun


Being in Ministry can be rough. I initially started this post out as being a Youth Pastor is tough, but having grown up the son of a Pastor and a brother of a Missionary, Youth Pastor, Children’s Pastor, and someone very active in leadership with MOPS, I know that its not just Youth Ministry that is tough.

My heart has been breaking for Ministers the last few days / weeks as I read more and more blog posts about issues in the church, most that don’t even necessarily come from those we minister to, but from those who are supposed to be our partners.

One of my favorite quotes from Mike Yaconelli goes something like ” I am in awe of youth workers, and I think Jesus is too. I just wish the church felt the same.”

I remember in college and a lot of youth ministry books I have read, they always deal with facing the challenges that come with working with parents, because just about every youth worker, I’m sure, has dealt with this.

But the reality for today, I feel, is that the greater challenges come from the Sr. Pastor, or board of Elders. Any number of blogs could be found dealing with the frustrations of Youth Pastors who for whatever reason can’t seem to find harmony with their superiors. And it breaks my heart. I know it breaks God’s heart, too, because this is not what he intended “ministry” to look like.

We are supposed to be able to lock arms with our superiors to fight evil in our communities. We are supposed to be able to be partners in working to bring about Life-change in our neighborhoods. We are supposed to be able to work together.

But the painful truth is that many churches in this country aren’t able to.

And I don’t think there is any “across the board” solution other than deep soul searching by both parties, and an honest conversation with God.

Because in some cases, the Pastor may be the one holding it all back with his arrogance or pride, being set in his ways.

Still, in others, the Youth Pastor really is just a young renegade who saw how one church was doing things and now thinks that if a church isn’t doing it that same way, they are wrong and old fashioned.

Whatever it may be though, many of our peers our hurting. If you are one of those youth workers lucky enough to love your church where you are serving, you have no problem calling it home, and you love working with your superiors, then be thankful for it, and pray for our comrades.

If you are one of those hurting, who has reached the point where Ministry isn’t fun anymore, its not worth it anymore, you know your called to serve but you can’t serve where you are for much longer because it is sucking the life out of you, I’d love to talk, I’d love to connect in some way and share stories and hear your frustrations. Because honestly, sometimes just letting them off our chest to someone else who can relate makes it possible to stay another week, believe me I have been there before.

But know this – God has a plan. I know we all know this. I know we tell our students this constantly. But we have to hold on to that hope that even in the messed up circumstances Youth Pastors can sometimes be in, God is at work.

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My dad


This post will probably not get me any traffic, but I dont care. Im not in it for traffic, I blog because it sharpens me as a leader.

And I know my dad most likely wont ever see this, because he never visits my site. But I dont care, because I’m not writing it to please him.

But we all have that one person we look up to more than anything, whether its for advice, as a role model, whatever. And I consider myself the luckiest person in the world that that person for me is my father.

Tonight I spent a great deal of time watching videos from his church on youtube, and I am blown away by his heart for people and ministry and God. I remember when he was candidating for this particular job several years ago, and the search team called me in for an interview, and how later they said that one of the main reasons they hired my dad was because of me, because they saw that since I seemed so clearly Christ centered, it spoke volumes of the character of my dad (which is why I still feel today that the most important trait of an elder/overseer/ pastor is the point Paul makes about managing his household well).

I remember back then feeling super arrogant about that, as though it spoke about my character. I teased my parents for a while, since I had no car, that since I got my Dad the job, in essence, the least they could do was to buy me a car.

But that statement/sentiment had absolutely nothing to do with me, but had everything to do with my parents. It spoke nothing of my character or leadership, but spoke volumes of theirs.

When it comes down to it, this should be an accurate portrayal of our relationship with our heavenly father. I believe it was Spurgeon who once said “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” People we lead to Christ should be led to Christ because they see his beauty shining through us. They should think that since we so clearly love the Lord, the Lord must be great, because in the end, he is. I dont want to lead people to the Lord because I have a great life and if they become Christians, they can too. I want to lead people to the Lord because they see him in me.

To close it up, I pray that some day I can be as great as a Father as my Dad was to me and my siblings. I look at my siblings and am utterly amazed that of the 5 of us, all have served or are currently serving in ministry. Thats rare. I don’t say that to show off about my family, but to say, my Parents were amazing Parents. I pray I can be a fifth as effective as they were in ministering to my family some day. I know I married a woman just like my mom, I just pray I can someday be just like my dad.

Big Church Envy


If you ever have a disagreement with someone and you want to win, just call them prideful. It’s flawless, because from that point on, anything they say is just their pride swelling up. As long as your the first person to play the pride card, you win, every time.

So say your having a disagreement over the vision of a ministry with someone, they aren’t seeing things the way you see them, just blame it on their pride. Case closed.

I hate that. Because unfortunately, more often than not, the person who plays that card is the one who’s pride is really in the way. Sure, there can be exceptions, but if you play that card, you better check yourself.

I got that card played on me a while back and it infuriated me. There was a real issue that needed to be fixed and is still yet to be fixed because of pride. I knew my intentions and motives going in, and they weren’t flowing from my pride.

But it did get me searching for ways I was being prideful, and unfortunately as a Human being, pride is always to be found.

I take pride in my education. I feel this is a good kind of pride, for the most part, because be it as it may, graduates from my school are sought after more than any other Christian college, and so being able to say I hold my degree from there gives me a bit of a swagger, which can be good or bad.

One of the negative ways it plays out, however, can definitely come out quite a bit. I am blessed to still keep in touch with my old class mates and see them in thriving ministries. It’s amazing to me that some of the guys I was in class with have been able to achieve some of the things they have done right out of college. It’s amazing to me how many went from classes and very little experience to big churches in big cities with established healthy ministries.

Unfortunately, I can often become envious of them. Being in a small town in a small church and seeing several of my good friends with less experience than I have graduate at the same time as me and get job offers from great, large churches, where as Im having to build in an extremely small town with what sometimes feels as not the greatest support, it can cause me to be jealous.

But I feel like this is something every small town youth pastor deals with. There is this unfortunate myth that small town student ministry isn’t as good, isn’t as important, isn’t as effective. We may not every even outright say that, but if we looked at our ministries, its being yelled.

I could never do that, my church is too small. I could never make a an atmosphere  in our youth services that beckons for visitors, I don’t have the resources. I could never plan as great of a camp as that church, I don’t have the time. Whatever it is that you feel you can’t do because of your context.

And though some of it may be true, and some of it may be unnecessary (like how I think it would be awesome to incorporate video’s into our pre-message every week, thats not necessarily important, nor do I have the time to invest in that because there are other important things to get done.)

So though that may be true, its also false, because there are things we could do, we just aren’t. We have boughten into the myth that our ministry can’t be as great as first united church down the street, so we stop trying those things and get content with what we have.

This is a very dumbed down sentence to describe it, so don’t hold this against me, but the #1 thing that grows any ministry is its leadership. I say its dumbed down because you could come back and say ” Well what about relationship with Christ, or biblical dependency, etc. etc.”

A real leader in a ministry already has that, its a given. But whats missing from that is the leadership attributes such as Vision, Delegation, Mobilization. A real leader in youth ministry will not only be teaching his students the bible, but also the vision of them mobilized to make a difference in their school. A real leader will give their students a purpose that is more than showing up on Sunday or Wednesday nights.

If you want to see your ministry grow, your students need to grow. And if you want to see your students grow, then you need to grow. Continually.

Take time to have spiritual renewal

Rest


Apparently, my body was much more tired than I thought it was from the last few weeks of going, because today I didn’t wake up until 2 pm.

My body needed rest and today it got it.

I find it very interesting that God designed our bodies to shut down when they need rest. Like you can’t stay awake for too long before things in your body begin to shut down and find the rest they need.

It’s amazing, though, that it’s not the sort of deal that you could, say stay up continuously from monday morning until friday evening and then make up for it by sleeping friday evening until monday morning. Our bodies wont work that way, they can’t function that way.

I remember when I was in college on the Debate team, we had tournaments in the fall just about every weekend, and the amount of energy and time the debate team took was just as much as a full time job, only we were all full time students as well. So what would end up happening is that a few of us inevitably would go to the Debate Lab (section of main university building with offices, computer lab, lecture rooms and cubicles) on tuesday after class, stay there all night working on homework/debate stuff until wednesday classes, go back to the debate lab and work until thursday classes, then get on the bus and sleep for the first time since Tuesday morning. I think this is what really instilled in me my addiction to starbucks.

But I remember one time doing this same pattern just on an off week, but extending it a day to friday, and going to sleep friday afternoon with the intent of just taking a nap and getting up in time to go see a movie with my friends. So I go to sleep at about 3:30 pm and wake up and my clock says 6:00 pm. I figured great, I feel so rested with just that, plenty of time before the movie starts. I headed out of my room and discovered my friends getting ready to go…to the football game. It was Saturday, I had slept nearly 27 hours straight!

So whats the point of all of this. And I know its somewhat contradicting because I said we can live that way but I just showed a week where I did. And I hope it goes without saying, you can’t LIVE that way, you can get by for a few weeks, but you cant live like that. It’s miserable.

Well I say all this because I know that many students live this way spiritually, and I fear that many in ministry do as well.

Part of our Sabbath is meant to renew our souls, to reconnect with God. But many times, we are too busy to not be busy. So we push it off to the side, we consider lesson preparation our quiet time, we rush through our prayers, and we don’t take time to really focus on why we are doing what we are “doing for the Lord.” Then, when we do get those moments, we try and get so much out of them to make up for the times we missed.

But this is no way to Live. I wish our spiritual lives would sometimes shut down on their own to get the rest they truly need because we too often ignore the warning signs that our tank is getting low. We need to take sabbath. We need to daily connect with God and be renewed by him. We can’t allow ourselves to be so busy doing things for the Lord that in the end we don’t do anything for the Lord.

I know as Pastors we know this. But we also all know to go to bed every night, but we still get tired.

Oh, You have experience?


I love Youth Workers, we are a great gang of people, a special breed. And so I loved this past weekend hanging out with 3,000 of us.

One of the things I loved doing this past weekend was sitting on the sack chairs people watching. You notice the classic stereotypes of Youth pastors, and you see how they interact.

What I love about stereotypes is that for the most part, there is usually truth to them. If someone is stereotyping you as Lazy, what truth is there in that? What are you doing that would give them the hint of being lazy? It’s somewhat of the whole “Be above reproach” thing, that a lot of us youth pastors need to remember.

Having said that, I sterotyped a lot of youth pastors this weekend, and it kind of goes back to what I talked about in this post and this post at the beginning of the year.

There were some Youth Pastors who have been in youth ministry 5 years, and some Youth Pastors who have been in ministry 35 years who I would want to learn from, because they have GOOD experience. They have adapted, they have evaluated, they have seen what wasn’t working in their ministry and lives and changed it, and you can just tell. These guys are constant learners. They read books, they read blogs, they interact with other Youth pastors. They are life long learners and are therefore great teachers and mentors, and again, I have met Youth Pastors with tons of years of this as experience and Youth Pastors with 5 years of experience of doing this. And even though both of those have a lot to offer, neither would say they know everything about Youth Ministry.

But I also have met many Youth Pastors with 5 years or 35 years of BAD experience. It’s like these guys came out of bible school or seminary with this idea of how Youth Ministry looks, which is great, we all do, but then they get into ministry and they strive to get it to look like that picture of a perfect youth ministry they have in their mind, and they fail. But they keep trying it. They keep doing the same thing. And then they go to a conference and expect to find the answers to solve the problem as to why they can’t get their ministry to look how they want it to. And so you see these guys who sure, they have been in ministry for years and years, but they don’t have experience that really counts for anything, because they aren’t learning from their failures.

Why? Most likely, because they aren’t willing to take risks, they aren’t willing for failure to be an option. Further, even if they can say “failure is an option, its ok” they most likely aren’t willing to admit it when they do fail. And I don’t think its because of pride, (sure pride comes out in that, but thats not the root issue).

I can’t sit here and tell you what makes one  Youth Pastor have good experience and another Bad. I don’t know the answer to why some of us are willing to learn from our mistakes and seek to improve and others of us are fighting so hard to get this one, broken system to work.

But I know we need to change. Our Churches deserve better. Our students deserve better. God deserves better.

So really evaluate, however many years of experience you have, are they good years of experience? Or do you have 10 years of the same year, because you haven’t changed or adapted.

 

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