“Ohio?” I could sense the frustration coming from the parent. She didn’t want her kid to go, but as I explained the retreat was a requirement for Confirmation. If she didn’t like what we did there were other churches with programs that would fit her liking. It was time to be the bad guy.
You are tempted and pushed to please people. You are inclined to make people happy because it means that they’ll come to your youth program. Happy parents means no conflict or tension. The problem with being the nice guy is that it’s a key to being burned out and used. Sometimes to make your ministry grow you need to have people NOT LIKE YOU.
It’s a difficult feeling to embrace. In a relational profession like youth ministry you want people to like you. You want them to be pleased with what you do. The idea of being a bad guy doesn’t sit well because it means:
- Saying No: No, sounds like a bad word, because you didn’t like it as a small child. No, can actually be one of the healthiest words in your vocabulary because it helps you set limits. It prevents people from abusing your guidelines and working with the rules. Learn how to say it firmly and graciously and people will respect you.
- Taking Risks: People are put off when you ask them to get outside their comfort zone. They’ll tell you that you are wrong. They’ll say you are being reckless. If you have done your homework and prayed about your decision by all means lean into the tension. In the end being the bad guy will pay dividends for your ministry.
- Losing People: You cannot please everyone, so please stop trying. Instead of trying to be everything for everyone discover your target audience. Focus your ministry efforts on them and then encourage others to get on board. Some people will be inspired to create a church for unchurched people, others will move on. That’s okay.
- Creating Conflict: In order to grow you need to be okay with conflict. That comes from challenging others, encouraging conversations and rejecting ideas. Being in conflict means everyone is heard, even if they aren’t on the same page. Sometimes the conflict needs to be stirred up; therefore, encourage it in your meetings and brainstorming sessions.
No one really wants to be the bad guy. However, in order for the ministry to reach that next level you need to be willing to take flack. You have to embrace difficult decisions. It’s not about being popular it’s about doing what’s best. If you stay true to what God is calling you to do, even if it means being the bad guy, you will be blessed.
How else can you be the bad guy? Do you agree that there is a need?