For the last few months, I have been examining and re-examining what our midweek and weekend programs look like. I have come the conclusion that I need to do a better job at leading people. I believe that any decent leader would say that about himself/herself, but I am quite serious when I say this about myself. I have found that the leaders that I shepherd need to catch on the vision of why we do middle school ministry. The answer to the that question would certainly be the catalyst that has been missing. Here’s a couple quick thoughts from the inside of my head:
- Leaders need to understand sacrifice. It is one thing to teach a bible study, but to purposely invest time and energy into the lives of students requires some sort of sacrifice. That is not to say that volunteers need to give there entire lives to middle school ministry- that’s not what I’m saying. What I do mean is that, we need to have a purpose of why we want to “do life” with middle schooler students. It boils down to this: students see that sacrifices we make and the one’s we don’t.
- Leaders need to understand complacency. Because it worked before does not mean it will be a hit the second time around. In today’s ADD world, students can take and leave purposeful elements just as the wind blows. I have come to understand that complacency is a disastrous safety blanket that plagues many youth workers. We become “too” comfortable in midweek/weekend programs, and that’s when things become stagnate. Students hate stagnated elements. This partially is not their fault (they do live in world where everything and everyone wants things done in a nanosecond), yet programming should not be built upon an ADD mentality. I am reminded that when things get to comfortable, that’s a sure sign to shake some things up.
- Leaders need to understand care. Care comes in many forms (remembering a name, making that phone call, remember the student period!) It’s amazing how we can think and care for students based upon a schedule “Sunday…it’s my day to talk with students…” Care is a sacrifice and should be based upon complacency. Students need adults that pray for them throughout the week, show up at their ballgames, take for some Starbucks, pray for their parents, remember what makes them laugh, remember what makes them cry. A leader knows (cares) for their students. Note that care and knowing a student are two different things. I can know a student, but care signifies shepherding and love. It screams “you are worth my time.”
- Leaders need to understand rest. One reason leaders/youth workers get burnt out is because of the lack of rest. They spend too much time giving and fail to re-charge themselves with the presence of God. We do all of this “youth ministry” stuff, and almost fail to have that special time with Him. we can not lead students down a path we have never been before. How can we tell students to read there bibles when we are ourselves don’t? How can we tell our students to have a healthy prayer life, when the only time we talk to God is when we remember to? Finding rest in the Lord is crucial to leading students. Note that students can see a fake and when they do, the chances of them opening up and really allowing you to care for them becomes somewhat impossible.