I love to watch coaches. When most people watch sports they watch the athletes to see how they perform and that is true of me too. However, as a student of sports there are many times when I find myself watching the coaches. The fact of the matter is that teams take on the personality of their coaches. One of the main reasons that I don’t like the 49ers is because I don’t like Jim Harbaugh and you can see him reflected in the attitude of his players. Jim is known to fly off the handle and you end up seeing displays like this one.
Teams reflect their coach. This can either scare the crap out of you or inspire you! People are watching you and the people you are leading right now will pick up traits from you, for better or for worse.
See the role of a coach is to set other people up for success. If you are a football coach, you do everything in your power to build a solid game-plan and set your team up to chalk up another W. Ultimately if you can prepare your team enough this leads to trophies, better, pay, etc. There was a time when every coach was the player and they decided the outcome of the game but now it all comes down to how well the team executes.
Our role in student ministry is very much the same. Student ministries will reflect the personality of their leader. The tension we face as student leaders is that our “playing days” are over, so to speak. I will assume that if you are a pastor or leader then you are saved. With that said, your job now is to lead a student to the point of accepting Christ and praying that that student makes Christ Lord of their life. You can script out the perfect “game-plan” but it is up to our students to execute it.
As I was reading my Bible today, I saw this play out at the end of King David’s life.
So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work. – 1 Chronicles 28:10 (NLT)
Then King David turned to the entire assembly and said, “My son Solomon, whom God has clearly chosen as the next king of Israel, is still young and inexperienced. The work ahead of him is enormous, for the Temple he will build is not for mere mortals—it is for the Lord God himself! Using every resource at my command, I have gathered as much as I could for building the Temple of my God. Now there is enough gold, silver, bronze, iron, and wood, as well as great quantities of onyx, other precious stones, costly jewels, and all kinds of fine stone and marble. – 1 Chronicles 29:1-2 (NLT)
See David wanted desperately to build the temple but God wouldn’t let him. David could have taken one of two roads here. David could have sat around and moped for the rest of his days but rather he decided to set Solomon up for success. King David realized all that it would take to complete the temple and he set up the best possible “game-plan” to help Solomon succeed as the new King. David’s “playing days” were over but he saw the potential in Solomon and did all he could do to help him win. David recognized Solomon’s faults and helped transition him into prominence as Israel’s new king.
We need to take action to set those around us up to succeed. Who are you investing in and who are you setting up resources for? Everyone reading this post (parents, students, youth pastors, etc.) has the opportunity and ability to coach someone up so what are you doing to invest in the future?
“When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.” — Exodus 13:17-18 (NLT)
Sometimes I feel like the journey that God has me on parallels many parts of Israel’s journey through the wilderness. I sit back and I say to myself, “Man I wish I had a pillar to follow, because that would be so much easier that just sitting here and waiting.” If you don’t know me, I am not exactly a patient person, so the waiting thing is pretty tough. When Alicia and I were visting and flying to churches I would get anxious on the tarmac as we approached the gate. I definitely don’t do well waiting in tight, poorly ventilated areas, but I am quickly convicted by my lack of appreciation for the miracle of human flight (If you didn’t get that reference click here).
About a year ago we felt God prompting us to leave Pennsylvania for numerous reasons. The problem is that leaving was not going to be an easy matter. We had bought a house in November 2011, we had just hit our one year anniversary at the church, and I had no idea what our next step was. The fact that we loved our youth and our youth leaders so much made it even harder to leave! Again, at least the Israelites knew they were heading to the promised land where there was everything in abundance. I was prepared to work as a shelf stocker at Walmart, but we ended up moving in with my parents and me working as an office assistant at my dad’s business (not the ideal scenario for a young youth pastor and his wife, but God has a way of uniquely meeting our needs!).
I never would have imagined that it would be nine months before I was able to get back into full time ministry. However, just like the Israelites, God knew just the right path for my wife and I to take. The fact is, God didn’t take the Israelites on the quickest path to the promised land. He could have, but he had a path that was better and would protect the Israelites. God also knew that if the Israelites took the shortest route, they would never achieve the long term dream that God had for His people.
Most people would say that the ideal situation is to leave a church and know exactly where you’re going, but we NEEDED those nine months. People leave churches for all sorts of reasons, but Alicia and I needed time to heal, grow as a couple, and refocus for the ministry God had called us to. There were plenty of awesome churches that we interviewed with in that time, but God knew that we needed to take the long path. Honestly, if we had left and gone straight to another church we would never be able to achieve all that God wanted us to achieve. We could have gone and found a good job somewhere, but God was saving the right job for us.
The roundabout way has had it’s struggles, but it was the path that God used to grow us and bring us to Hopevale Church! I am so blessed to be a part of the team here. Looking back, nine months was not as long as it seemed in the moment. In that time we went from Pennsylvania to Virginia to Michigan! The road you are on right now may not make a whole lot of sense right now. Some of you may be starting a job, leaving a job, waiting for a job, or pressing steadily on but always trust that while the road may be long, God always knows the destination and has dreams for you that you can’t even begin to imagine.
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.