It’s that time of year, January one to be exact, when we get excited or anxious about making decisions on how we should be living our lives. These could be new resolutions or classics we couldn’t keep last year but want or need to make one more stab at.
I’m not here to give advice on making or keeping resolutions because I don’t make them (or keep them). I think January one resolutions are a lie because every day is January one if we really want to start a new habit or stop a bad behavior. What I want to offer you is a list of commitments you could make to your youth ministry this year that will definitely pay off in the end.
Warning: I wouldn’t choose to commit to all of these because it will only lead to failure. Choose one for the first six months and one in the second six months of the year. Build a discipline and then build another.
Work smarter and harder
As a full time youth pastor, I did not respect the ungodly amount of time I was given. I knew I was going to make a paycheck no matter how I spent my time. Thankfully, I wised up and rather than sit back, get spiritually and mentally soft and let the checks roll in; I worked on making myself better, offered my services to other ministries and building relationships. Don’t take your time for granted, maximize it in all directions.
For years I spent time buying other people curriculum, lessons, etc., then I took a stab at writing my own material. Your youth ministry is unique and no one knows it better than you. There’s a glut of material out there, including mine, but writing your own lessons, making your own videos, creating your own next steps for new believers will cause you to grow in creativity, challenge you to study more and maybe awaken a latent gifting you never knew you had.
Make more disciples
I don’t mean making more educated students, I mean making doers. Let student do the work of the ministry and the education will come. Figure out how to give away 90% of what you do in a youth meeting, including preaching, and watch your kids’ spiritual growth explode. I have some ideas about this over here.
Youth ministry isn’t about how much you do and its not about how much work you make your students do. The work itself does not make disciples, but intentionally challenging students to step into their giftedness and creating opportunities for them to act on them does.
I don’ t mean take more days off or waste your time, I mean intentionally, daily and weekly, make time for Sabbath Rest. Contrary, to popular belief, Sunday is a work day for pastors. Some Sunday’s it’s hard to just rest in the Lord and worship because you’re busy teaching, praying for others and dealing with other people’s problems. Make time to rest your heart in Jesus, breath, pray, meditate, work on a hobby, otherwise burn out is around the corner.
Find a mentor and a coach
The definition of mentor and coach overlap, but each has their role. I think of mentors who walk with us in daily grime of life, praying with us, etc. I think of coaches as tacticians. Like football coaches, ministry coaches work on technique and skills.
Like someone once told me, we should all have an Apostle Paul, someone investing in our professional and personal growth, a Timothy, someone we are inviting in and a Barnabas (son of encouragement), someone who believes in us and tells us we can make it.
I am a Paul in regards to young man facing many trials in his military, right now. I am a Timothy to many in the ministry and business worlds, and I am a Barnabas to the youth ministry community. So much so in the latest that I started an ongoing coaching program for youth workers, called Ministry Mind, who need the kind of coaching and encouragement they cannot get anywhere else.
Don’t get caught up in the resolution hype. You know you better than anyone else. You know what God is speaking to your heart on what to work on and what to let go. You know your ministry and your students better than anyone, work on what works best for you and let the Holy Spirit lead you into rest.