Last week I made a post about Top 10 Youth Ministry Commitments from Doug Fields Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry. I just wanted to take this time elaborate on those commitments. So with the help of Doug Fields, once again the 10 commitments to youth ministry.
- I will move slowly
I think this is important, because we’re not running a short race. When I did track, I mostly ran the short distances and did field events. I had to run a 400 relay for the team because one of the runners got hurt. I started out fast. Too fast. I didn’t pace myself well enough and started losing a lot of speed near the end. Starting fast isn’t always the best thing. Finishing strongly is far more important that a quick and fast start. By moving fast, we may end up hurting ourselves and our ministries.
- I will regularly check my motives and evaluate my heart
This is one that I constantly need to remember. Who am I doing this for? Why am I making this decision? And I think it’s more important to have someone hold me accountable with this too. But if I don’t regularly question myself and my motives, then I may end up doing foolish things. I always have to sit back and ask, who benefits from all this? Many times, the answer has been that only I will benefit from certain decisions. That’s not good for the ministry when programs and decisions only benefit the pastor. It’s a good self-checking process that we all need to do.
- I will steer clear of the numbers game
I think many churches get too caught up in their physical number of members in their church. My church pretty much equates the success of the youth group to how much we have grown. To be completely honest with you, I don’t know the exact number of youth that come to our church, and to the frustrations of the senior pastor, I don’t really care. Although, maybe I should a little, but I really find how many students our ministry has in the bottom of my priorities. Sure, I want us to grow. Like I tell our young adults to go and bring your friends to church and have them check it out. Not because I want us to be a huge ministry, but I strongly feel that the many of the young adults are lost in their faith and searching for something. I just want our current members to bring a friend to hear the Word of the Lord.
A down side to being concerned with the numbers game is that we start treating (subconsciously, maybe) the people at church as a statistic. I remember visiting a church for a seminary assignment, and there something about the way I was greeted by the pastors and ushers that made me ask, are they happy that I am joining them to worship with them, or are they happy that they have one more number they can add to their Sunday attendance.
- I will not criticize my past
The past is redeemed. There’s no point of dwelling in my past, but I need to grow from it.
Also, there is no need to criticize those who came before me in the position. There’s nothing good that’s going to come out of me criticizing the previous pastor and her/his ways. I know a lot of members may have horrible things to say about their previous pastor, but that doesn’t mean I’m invited to join in. I don’t know that pastor and the same things are going to be said about me, probably, once I leave. I don’t see anything that I can gain from by criticizing the pastors that were here before me.
- I will avoid the comparison trap
This is another one I have to work at. It’s easy to get lost in comparing my ministry to other ministries. But you can never win by comparing. You either will become prideful because you are ahead of your neighbor, or you will become envious because they are ahead of you. It’s a lose-lose situation.
The truth is the grass is NOT greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it. Sure the ministry across the street is just growing and becoming huge. But God didn’t give me that ministry, he gave me the ministry I am serving now. And my focus and concentration should be what God wants to do with me in my setting.
Besides, the Lord is my Shepherd, and I shall not be in want.
It’s also not a good thing to compare your skills with other leaders. They’re not you, you’re not them. Everyone has a gift they can offer to God in serving Him. Everyone has a weakness, regardless if they make you feel like they don’t. For everyone has fallen short of the glory of God.
- I will focus on priorities
This requires me to say “no.” That’s right. “No.” I have so many requests throughout the week, that if I say yes to all of them, I’ll never get around doing what’s really important.
What are my non-negotiables? And I need to build and plan around them. Saying “yes” to everything will not help your ministry, even though it may seem like it. We all have to learn to say “no” when it matters.
- I will pace my self
Kind of like number 1. I need to go at a pace that I’m comfortable with. I know many who started off so fast that by the end of their second year, they were just burned out. I don’t think that’s a healthy picture of ministry. Fast isn’t always better. Neither is bigger always better.
- I will serve
When I first read this in the book, I thought it was kind of funny that it was there. Duh! Of course I will serve. But as I started serving, I realized why this was there. To remind me that I am a servant first and foremost. The best church leaders, in my opinion, are servants themselves. So when I realized this, I made a promise to myself that if I wouldn’t do it, I won’t ask the kids to do it. Which isn’t a very big thing, I know, but it has helped me to realize that these kids aren’t here to serve me. I am here to serve them.
- I will be a learner
The day I stop learning should be the day that I die. I would be very arrogant and egotistical to think I know enough. I don’t. I’m always willing to learn and grow, even if it is painful. I don’t want anyone referring to me “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
- I will pursue contentment
The Lord will provide everything I need. The Lord is my Shepherd, and I shall not be in want.