3 Keys To Youth Ministry Longevity

Ministry can feel like climbing a huge mountain at times can’t it? When I first started out in youth ministry things seemed so simple… If you are like me, you have come to realize that ministry can be challenging and overwhelming at times.  What began as clear cut becomes confusing…  What began as a blessing can feel like a curse…  Just like a stranded rock climber, we are worn out, we feel confused and disoriented, and we have lost sight of all the beauty around us…

Youth Ministry Longevity

So, how can we avoid getting to this point? How can we refocus and rediscover the passion if we already feel this way? Here are 3 essential keys I live by.  These keys in essence have become my personal ‘homebase’ to come back to…

1) Always be growing in your own faith walk: This should be a given, but I know personally that there have been seasons where I have been running on empty or feeling personally disconnected with God. For many of us, our schedule and propensity to people please has become an enemy of our quiet time with God. Prayer and Bible study become lesson preparation rather than personal growth. We all know that we need to be filling the tank, but are we really? How are your quiet times fueling your passion for Jesus and the people He has called you to? Seriously, pause to consider this…

When the ministry season is challenging, things look a whole lot worse when we are running on empty…

2) Always be looking to learn: I am not sure if we are all naturally good at it, but I am always pushing to become more self aware of areas in my life that need work and correction. I never want to be one of those people who didn’t see the crash coming. It’s my goal to be brutally honest with myself and allow others who I trust to speak truth into my life. Sure, we all need to be picking up books on ministry, but the best lessons learned are often about ourselves and what God is challenging to change. I have discovered that when I become self aware of my struggles and issues, it is then that God can transform me first, and then use me with great effectiveness. How about you?

Authentic leaders are self aware and are willing to become learners of their innermost issues and struggles.

3) Always be looking to love well: The truth is, we will blow it sometimes! There will be days when our students, leaders, and parents see us mess up. However, if we are committed to loving people well, we will discover a lot of grace that is extended during our greatest mistakes. When people feel disconnected or at odds with us, we should expect a ‘disconnected response’ when we blow it… Now, I know that people should not respond lacking grace for us, but this is a reality in many of our churches. When we love well, people will see past many of our faults… (But that does not mean we shouldn’t be working to eradicate those faults…)

Love covers a multitude of sins and mistakes, so ensure that we make it easy for others to extend grace to us.

Now, as I said at the beginning of this post, this my personal homebase list. You might also want to read from the experiences of Rick South and Joel Snyder who both guest blogged here a while back. They are youth ministry veterans with huge experience.

What would you add to this list? What is your ‘homebase’ for longevity in youth ministry? 

Phil <><

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3 Responses to 3 Keys To Youth Ministry Longevity

  1. Geoff Stewart January 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    Great thoughts Phil, especially the third, my grace for people diminishes when I am exhausted and thankfully owning my actions has allowed me to experience forgiveness from those I have hurt. Needed to read this today.

  2. Phil Bell January 10, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    Geoff, thanks mate! Much of what I write is a constant reminder to me too. I needed to write this the other day :-)

  3. Tom Shriver January 11, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    I love number 2 – it’s super easy to think we know it all after a few years in ministry (we do learn a lot in a short amount of time). Always being able to learn is awesome. Thanks for providing a good source for us to learn, Phil!

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