It breaks your heart, when a teen opens up and shares with you that they’re hurting. It changes the way you look at youth ministry. Almost like they’ve dropped a bomb on your world.
Youth ministry is fun and easy when it comes to playing games. It’s inspiring when a teen shares his story. When a teen reveals a deep secret, it’s like a bomb has gone off in the room. It’s a moment where you can celebrate that a teen trusts you. It’s also a moment that is so pivotal in a teen’s faith journey.
Labor Day is that last moment of rest before hitting the grind of the fall. It’s a day where my family grills great food, hangs out and just enjoys the time away from work. In a way it’s a Sabbath, which at times are hard to observe. I know there have been seasons in my life where I haven’t paused and it’s worn me out.
Youth ministry is a marathon and you need to find a sustainable pace. And while it’s important to move forward it’s important to find those moments of rest so that you can endure for the long haul. The problem is discovering those moments and taking advantage of them. To find rest you need to:
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:
For the first three years of ministry I felt that there were certain people out there trying to sabotage me. Sounds ridiculous; however, there were incidences that I held onto that created these wounds. Ministers going against my instructions and not seeing eye to eye with certain parents built feelings of bitterness. It was hurting me as a leader and disciple of Christ.
One day I was sharing an angry email from a parent with my pastor and he said:
“Chris, don’t take it personally. You know that they are just coming to you because they don’t know where to go. There’s a story beneath the story.”
It was a turning moment for me because I began to approach moments of conflict and hurt differently. I looked for healing so that I could stop the hurting.
Wounds happen on a daily basis in youth ministry, because it’s a spiritual battle. Ministry is personal and deals with people’s hearts and souls. When the wounds form you need to address them or else they will:
- Build Resentment
- Blur Your Focus
- Creates Distrust Towards Others
- Isolates You In Your Ministry
To heal your wounds takes work. It’s not impossible; however, it takes patience, humility and love. To find healing for your wounds you need to be: