Transitions In Youth Ministry: Part 2 – The Comparison Game

In my previous post, I talked about the importance of building healthy foundations when transitioning into a new ministry. Today I would like to talk about a potential danger that new and transitioning youth workers can easily struggle with:

PLAYING THE COMPARISON GAME: So often students, parents, and leaders are hurting from the loss of the previous youth worker that they will naturally compare us with the previous person. The LAST thing we should be doing is joining in to play the comparison game too! It can become a dangerous and unhealthy foundation to build in our first year. Here’s what the comparison game can cause us to do:

  • We change who we are to keep others happy while we are not fulfilled ourselves…
  • We become defensive when we are compared to the last person and end up “bashing” the guy or gal before us…
  • We change our vision and priorities to keep others happy and continue what others thought was successful…
  • We can become frustrated when we change who we become frustrated in working toward a vision that is not ours…

THE REALITY OF THE COMPARISON GAME: Let’s be honest, every good youth worker should be creating a strong connection with their students, leaders, and parents. Therefore, we need to expect that people will have a natural tendency to miss the previous person and talk about them a great deal. Often a comparison statement is communicating “I miss the previous person, and you are not him or her.” This is natural and normal, but it’s important that we fight the urge to change who we are or take it too personally when we are compared…

HOW TO WIN THE COMPARISON GAME: 

  • Embrace your unique gifts and strengths: You are not the last person! God created you with specific gifts and a specific personality. Seek God’s assurance of your uniqueness and calling and cling to Him for affirmation. Living for the affirmation of others can be a dangerous path to walk down in any ministry.
  • Communicate your unique gifts and strengths to others: Without comparing yourself to the previous person, make sure that people are under no illusions as to who you are and what you stand for, (let them know your weaknesses too). Sometimes it’s good to state the obvious and deal with the elephant in the room. Students might be thinking you are ‘different’, so why not verbalize who you are and celebrate that publicly!
  • Don’t “bash” the previous person: Often when new youth workers feel defensive about who they are, it’s easy to go on the attack and try to expose the weaknesses of the previous person in order to elevate themselves. This only goes to show massive insecurity on our part. Be committed to compliment all that has gone before you, (even if you see many weaknesses).
  • Relax! It all takes time! There will come a day when you will feel accepted by your new church, (it won’t be ‘new’ then), but for now this is simply a season you are walking through. It’s so important to realize this season will not last forever… And here’s the really good news:  The more you can relax and be you, the more you will help others relax with who you are… 
What would you add to this list? How have you beaten the comparison game? 
Phil <><

2 Responses to Transitions In Youth Ministry: Part 2 – The Comparison Game

  1. John Fix February 8, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    This is a great point. God doesn’t expect us to be the previous youth pastor. He expects us to be faithful to the call he has given us. If we are truly created and gifted uniquely, why would we try to become someone else?

  2. Phil Bell February 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    That’s a great key! We compare less when we are confident in God’s design of us!

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