I definitely consider myself a program guy. I love to have a solid outline all worked out. And even more than that I like to see when it is played out flawlessly. The latter rarely happens. However, when it does it is straight up sweetness! But, a little word to the wise from a guy that has pretty much screwed up on every part of ministry, this is one that has taken me a long time to conquer. And I would say that sometimes I still fail.
Programming is one of those parts of ministry you have to look out for all of the time. If you forget, it can consume you and cause you to mess up relationships. What do I mean by this? Well, take your midweek stuff for example. You only have a certain amount of time. And if you are like many to most youth groups, you are competing for time in building and fields and the use of supplies. This is all important to keep on your radar because if you screw up too much on any of this stuff then you are likely to lose it, and rightly so, and it will take you tons of time to gain it back. But that does not give you the right to run over peeps and relationships in your quest to run the perfect program.
Trust me when say that I have been in programming nightmares where you wish you could crawl in a hole and come out when the nite is over. Things will go wrong. It's like Murphy's Law loves to hang out at churches just to mess everything possible up in ways you did not think they could get jacked. Music doesn't work, lights break, props are stolen, your message notes go missing in action. And this is when our character is shown. This is when we are most likely to wear our hearts on our sleeves. This is leadership in the making.
Do not ever take stuff out on your staff or your students – for any reason. If you need to approach a staff person for something dumb, like climbing trees with students or starting a marshmallow fight in the sanctuary, or something like that – do it in private... after. So, how do you deal with it at the time? Very carefully. Yeah, you gotta keep control when everything is going wrong and Piggy is carrying around the conch and it feel like you are in the middle of Lord of the Flies. But you cannot crack. Period. As the youth pastor, you are the last bit of sanity left in the place. You need to be like the lawyer in a courtroom when you get blindsided with information you didn't even know existed – calm, cool and collected.
Easier said than done, I know. But you have to do it. Your people are too important. You need to show your students, and your staff in particular, that stuff is going to be cool. Youth ministry is crazy enough without you losing it. But when you have stuff go wrong – and it will, more often than not – keep steady on the course. Don't get all wrapped up in the madness. Deal with stuff as it comes. Remember, no matter what the rest of the world thinks about youth pastors, you have to know that you are a professional. So, act like a professional. After a while, and I am talking years, you will be seen and treated as such. Stay the course, do your best, keep your cool, and you will excel.