As I go through the process of writing a book I find myself reminiscing an array of moments. Many of them are filled with joy and then some filled with pain. It’s especially during those first few years where I faced some of my toughest moments.
One thing that helped me get through the early years was the advice and wisdom from veteran youth ministers. It was through their love and care that I was able to grow into the leader I am today. It was with their loving guidance that they showed me to:
- Have Patience With Growth: Instant results are rare to come by. Youth ministry is a journey and it takes time to build and grow a successful one. In the end it’s about setting small mile markers to make sure you are on the right path. Don’t be afraid of failure, just be sure to always move forward.
- Always Dream Big: Some of the best advice I ever received was to have big vision for my youth ministry. Dreaming big means allowing God to do the impossible. It means casting vision and getting people excited. Take the time to sit with God and allow your imagination to go wild.
- Listen Before You React: As a youth minister you are passionate about what you do. When someone critiques or gives you feedback it’s easy to go on the attack. Instead listen for the wisdom. Absorb the situation and look for the intentions behind the comments. It will not only help you hear helpful advice, but make you more approachable as a leader.
- Keep Yourself Healthy: Again, youth ministry is a journey. If you are going to make it you need to take care of yourself physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. That means looking for opportunities to grow as a leader. It’s about taking time to rest and building margin into your schedule. Take care of your health, you’ll take care of your ministry.
- Absorb The Wisdom You Encounter: Negative or positive, no experience is a waste of your time. Every situation and person you encounter can be a learning moment. Keep a journal, take notes and absorb everything you learn along the way. It will help you grow in your own wisdom.
There is a ton of advice that I’ve received over the years from fellow youth workers in the trenches. To receive that wisdom and advice it’s important to network with one another. For those of you who are new to the field, find those men and women who have seen it all. Allow them to walk and pray with you. Their advice will help you along the way.
What advice would you give a first year youth minister?
What do you wish you had known when first walking in?