If I were to ask you what your time in the word looked like, what would your answer be?
- I give God the first 15 minutes of the day.
- I listen to pastors on podcast 3-4 times a week.
- I read my Bible through every year.
- I read my Bible when I prepare my lessons.
There are any number of answers that you could give to this question. Some are good answers and some answers totally break my heart. The first point that I want to make here in this post is to, GUARD your time in the word. This is my number one piece of advice I would give after a year of full-time ministry. GUARD your time in the word and FIGHT for time with God. If you do not guard your time in the word then you cannot be successful in anything else that you are trying to do. There are a million things that vie for your attention each day from parents, to events, to counseling, but you cannot do any of those things if you don’t guard your time in the word.
The answer that breaks my heart the most out of the four that I listed above is, “I read my Bible when I prepare my lessons.” This is like an accountant saying, I study tax code when I’m preparing your taxes. This is like a doctor saying I study the newest surgery procedures when I’m prepping for surgery. There is not one person out there that would say, “yes that is the doctor or accountant that I want to have.”
You were hired to be a shepherd of students! A shepherd is not just one of the sheep, a shepherd is a leader who knows the dangers has lead sheep before and knows what it takes to get the sheep through the various obstacles in their way. If you are going to shepherd your students, then you have to know where you are leading the students. You have to know the word better than your students.
My second question to you would be, if you don’t have a desire to be in God’s word daily, why is that? If God’s word is as life changing as you preach it to be, then why don’t you desire to be in it daily? I am not by any stretch saying that reading the word is always easy for me to read but we need to be disciplined in knowing and reading God’s word.
The reason I say GUARD your time in the word and FIGHT for time with God is because if you are not spending personal time in God’s word then you cannot lead people into the depths of God’s word. If you don’t GUARD your time in the word and FIGHT for time with God, then you may be successful for a time, but there is a shelf life on your ministry.
What are you doing to GUARD and FIGHT for time with God?
Last week we bought an ice cream maker. Probably not the healthiest investment, but definitely a fun and will-be-well-used one! Aside from the richer taste, there’s something euphoric and nostalgic about making your own ice cream with your own ingredients. Granted, we do have it much easier as our machine is fitted with a motor instead of having to churn it by hand. But there’s still something special about it.
We haven’t had much time to try many recipes. In an effort to try to make our ice cream low in calories, I found the first low-in-calories ice cream recipe I could. Needless to say, this was not a wise choice. Ice cream is meant to have cream in it. Hence the name: ice cream. So I should have figured our byproduct would leave something to be desired. We had some leftover mixture from this batch, so I decided to add pudding mix, since we had an extra in the pantry, to thicken it up some and knock off the icy taste. The second batch came out too strong on the pudding side of things.
So why do I tell you this? Because ministry is much the same way. We’ve often heard of the analogy of ministry needing to be a well-oiled machine, and this is true. In fact, Jason wrote about an aspect of this on Monday – how our youth ministries should be run professionally. But just as important as the machine itself (programming, events, vision, etc.), is what goes into the machine. The better your ingredients, and the better your method of combining those ingredients, the better your product will be.
You won’t get high quality, rich ice cream without high quality, rich ingredients. Likewise, you won’t get a high quality youth ministry without high quality people. People are the ingredients that will make or break your ministry.
Youth Pastors/Coordinators: Be in tune to who you allow to influence your students. I know many of you may be hurting for volunteers, so you’re willing to take whoever will dare to sign up. Please don’t do this! It takes a special person to be a high quality youth leader, and trust me that you don’t want sub-par influencers in your youth ministry. Search for people who have a passion for young people and who have been given the spiritual gifts necessary to carry out this great task and responsibility.
Youth Leaders: Don’t sign up for the first open spot. I personally have filled many roles in youth ministry: greeter, host teams coordinator, student leadership coordinator, small group leader, material writer/organizer, etc. There are definitely certain rolls that I am better at than others, and that’s ok! God wired us this way. Figure out what your niche is and where God can best use you first.
Parents: You and your kids are necessary ingredients to your youth ministry. Pastors and leaders will come and go, but your youth ministry wouldn’t exist without you or your kids. I just want to encourage you to spend quality time pouring into your kids. They need you more than anybody else, and God chose you to be their parent for a reason. Also, get involved! Ask where you can help out, because, chances are, they have just the right spot for you.
Have you seen people make or break your ministry? Feel free to comment below.
Alicia and I get hooked on television shows (Duck Dynasty, Hoarders, Clean House) and thanks to Netflix we have the ability to watch shows that we missed the boat on. Even thought we missed out on the whole series of Lost, we were still able to watch it online. One show that I often watch on my days off is Monk. The show is about a former detective with debilitating OCD tendencies. Most of us like order, to some extent, but this guy is bad. Monk brings his own sheets to a hotel, a suitcase full of sierra springs bottled water, and the list goes on and on.
The show follows Monk as he’s contracted out on cases to help the police solve problems that they never would be able to on their own. The thing about Monk, is he notices things that no normal person would notice and that is exactly what makes him the best. Monk has an attention to detail that is unparalleled. Monk will notice one thing out of place, that in turn helps to solve the crime and put the bad man behind bars.
I would love to sit and chat television with you all day, but there is a point that I want to make. The reason that Monk is able to solve the crime is because he makes sure that every detail is attended to and I think we could use a little more of that in youth ministry. If you are anything like me, I get completely frustrated with unprofessional youth pastors who do a half-effort job. The thing is, these youth pastors give every professional youth pastor out there a bad name. Even if I work hard to be as professional as possible, people will always have their preconceived notions of what a youth pastor is.
I would ask that all of you who are involved in youth ministry would strive to a level of professionalism that would change the view of youth pastors in ministry. We all wonder why people ask when we are going to grow up and be a “real” pastor and the reason is, because people don’t view youth pastors as professionals. By taking a cue from Monk, I would ask you to pay attention to detail. Take the first step toward changing the church world’s perspective of the professional, detail oriented, youth pastor.