Archives For relationships

There is no union so precious and so fruitful between husband and wife as 
that of holy devotion, in which they should mutually lead and sustain each other. - St. Francis de Sales, the Devout Life

A week ago my wife, Kate and I celebrated 7 years of marriage.  I’m happy to say that our relationship is stronger than it was when we first got married.  Granted, in the honeymoon phase nothing can go wrong, but then you have that first fight.  

Just as it says in the St. Francis de Sales quote, “There is no union so precious and so fruitful…” but that union can get challenged, even in youth ministry. There will be times when youth ministry is hard on your married life and vice versa.  What any youth minister who is married or looking to get married needs to know is:

YOU CAN’T LEAVE WORK AT THE DOOR

Youth ministry is messy.  You might have a fight with your pastor, a volunteer might quit or a parent could chew you out.  No matter what you try to do it can follow you home.  Instead of trying to completely separate the two:

  • Surround yourself with people outside your spouse that will hear you vent.
  • Plan quiet time with God.
  • Find a mindless activity to work off the emotions.

The same goes for bringing home life to work.  When things are rough in married life, know that it will follow you to work.  While you can’t prevent the emotions or situations, you can build in margin to manage them.

YOUR SPOUSE NEEDS TO BE BEHIND YOU 100%

If your spouse does not respect or like what you do, then your ministry will feel impossible.  To get them on board invite, do not pressure, them to learn more about your ministry.  Invest in them by sharing your vision, take them with you to conferences and share your stories of success.  The more they see what you love, the more they’ll get behind you.  This is essential when times at work get tough.  (For more on how get your spouse on board, click here)

YOU MUST BE CLEAR ON BOUNDARIES

To protect your married life you need to set boundaries.  That means informing coworkers and volunteers when and how you might be reached at certain hours.  Sit down with your spouse on a regular basis (Kate and I meet weekly) to discuss the calendar.  Communicate when work is negotiable and when it is not.  It might be hard conversation at first, but you’ll prevent any opportunities for disappointment.

YOUR PASTOR MATTERS

The only thing worst than your family resenting your job is your pastor resenting your marriage.  The best thing you can do is make sure he has a relationship with your spouse.  If he gets to know your spouse, he’s going to better understand when work and home conflict.

If you want to be a successful youth minister you need to take your married life seriously.  Love your spouse and embrace the journey God has you on.  Ask God to continually bless what it is you do and never be afraid to seek His guidance.  If your marriage is healthy, then so will your ministry.

What advice would you give to those starting out with marriage or youth ministry?

Great resources for balancing marriage and ministry: Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins When Family and Work Collide?

I’ve got a great pastor, and we’ve got a healthy relationship.  Unfortunately, it has not always been smooth sailing.  There have been times when I’ve disrespected his authority by chewing him out in front of others.  There have been times when he’s made decisions without hearing me out.  What’s gotten us through is a commitment to communicate and work through the tension.  In the end the results have not only been a great relationship but a powerful advocacy for the student program.

A question I hear often is, “How do I get my pastor on board?”  It’s a question filled with emotion and tension.  You want what you do to matter to him and if it appears like it doesn’t the feelings of isolation increase.  It’s not that he doesn’t care, in fact he probably does greatly.  The problem is that there is some drop in the communication that bring unnecessary tension to the relationship.  To resolve this and bring him on board you need to: Continue Reading…

Keeping It Relational

October 21, 2013 — Leave a comment

Some of the best memories I have from high school are of the adults that invested in me personally. They sat with me through my parent’s divorce.  They were knowledgeable and relational in their faith.  They showed me how to persevere in life and, as a youth minister I want to pass that on.

Courtesy of kevin dooley/Creative Commons License

Courtesy of kevin dooley/Creative Commons License

Youth ministry needs to be relational in order to be flexible with the chaos of life.  Relational ministry reminds teens that they are not alone.  It also gives parents a solid partner in ministry.  To make your ministry relational you not only need small groups and adults who care about teens, you also need to: Continue Reading…

Today we wrap up another year of SMILE Work Camp.  This camp is a week filled with service and fellowship for middle school students.  For a long time it was a struggle to find service opportunities for middle school.  So, 6 years ago I got together with 3 other youth ministers and we created a work camp where middle school students could serve in Baltimore City and it’s surrounding areas.  When we first started it was hard to get participants, today we fill up in a matter of days.

When it comes to getting middle school students involved in service there are a lot of challenges you will face.  There are age restrictions and extra precautions.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a day of serving or a week long work camp the idea of coordinating a group of middle school students to serve can be overwhelming.  To approach it properly and fold service into your middle school ministry’s DNA, you should: Continue Reading…

Escaping Isolation

July 24, 2013 — Leave a comment

In my third year of youth ministry I hit a dark period where I felt isolated and alone in ministry.  There was a lot of work piling up on my plate and instead of sharing those burdens I took them on my own.  I began to resent those around me, which pushed me down a path of loneliness.  Finally, I broke down and found myself venting to a few of my volunteers.  They stepped up, shared the burden and surrounded me with love.  I was free of isolation.

Youth ministry is not meant to be done in isolation; however, it’s so easy for a youth minister to find themselves in the midst of it.  You begin to feel like no one cares about you or your ministry.  Resentment, anger and frustration grow in your heart and what started out as a love has now become an annoyance.  To escape the dangers of isolation you need to make sure you: Continue Reading…