Saturday, October 31, 2009

Developing your network

You and I need to spend time with other youth pastors. Actually, that is what I get to do and love it. You are some of the coolest peeps I know. The ones who want to put time into students and give up you life, or what is left of it now, to the future of tomorrow. We need to support each other more than ever. With all the madness going on and everything that kids have to deal with today, they need us and the leaders that we build. And the more they need guidance, the more we are going to have to rely on one another to keep our sanity. You have a testimony and reason for doing ministry just like the guy or girl at the church down the road. And others need to hear that story. I don't think that I have ever heard a story from a youth pastor that did not inspire me.

There are blind spots in your ministry. There are blind spots in mine. The problem is that we all are so busy that we say we do not have time for a lunch with other pastors on a regular basis, yet we wonder why we do not grow at a rate that is pleasing to us or in many cases our senior pastors. Well, you need to be spending time with other youth workers on a regular basis. Others need to hear what you are doing to make sure you are not off your rocker. They are the ones who will keep you from the many pitfalls of ministry. You will learn stuff from them that you will think, “wow, I should have known that.” and these are the blind spots. You can overcome and beat them, but not until you take action to do so. I know you are busy, but that is not an excuse.

We all have tons to give and tons to learn from others. I remember when Cobb would take me along to chill with him at a monthly youth pastors lunch with all the peeps doing youth ministry in our local area. They were pretty cool. But they soon stopped and it was always really hard to get peeps together. But those who stuck with one another continued to grow. Many fell out of ministry, however, I do not know if these meetings could have helped. But I know that there is no way that they could have hurt them. Look at your schedule. Do you have other youth peeps in it regularly? Develop your network. It will add value to your ministry... sooner than later.

The daily journey...

You are a on a personal journey each and every day of your life. You know this. It is one of those things that we here from peeps as we grow up. It is our time to grow into someone who thinks clearly and for themselves, one to change and become one who changes the world in our own way. Within those changes there a few items that I would like to touch on that you will need to keep in mind. The first is that of connections. Write down all the peeps you meet. Get a business card of each of these persons and when you are done speaking with them following the first time you meet, turn it over and write down all the info that you learned about them. You may never see them again, but if you do then yo will remember the conversation you had and have something to go off of. Think about it. What are you most concerned with when you meet someone for the first time? You are just hoping that you don't mess stuff up on your end and become very self-aware, which causes you to forget most of what the other person is saying. Many of these peeps will become your allies further down the road.

Just a couple of months ago I was going to be traveling a bunch around the states, so I figured out the places I was going to be and checked to see if I had any connections in each of them. Surprisingly, most of the states or cities that you vist you will know some peeps, you just have to do your due diligence to remember that they are there. Make time to see them, even if it is for a short time or a pop-by kind of time. It will make peeps feel that you care – but the catch is that you should not do it if you do not care. You must always be sincere. Back to my homie. I found out that I was going to be in his state. Up to this point in our friendship I hadn't a chance to meet his wife or newborn son so this would be a good time. So I took time to go to his house and do so. I was only there for a couple of hours. But it was important to me to make this connection with him and his family, as we are in the same line of work and he will be a forever friend – if I continue to take initiative.

"The right man is the one who seizes the moment."
~J.W. von Goethe

When the opportunity presents itself to you, take it. There is a lot to say about going out and getting something done. I knew that on my trip I was going to be tired. I knew that there were tons of cities and destinations within them in a very short period of time. But I knew that the importance of the stuff I needed to get done outweighed the energy I would expend to do that stuff. The journey is a long one and when you reach the ultimate destination of one or more of your goals it will be only because of the intentionality of the activity up to that point.

It is easy to stay home or in the back, but the fruit comes from doing your best and getting things done. So the next time you are wondering if you should do something, get on it! I am not saying don't pray. What I am saying is that if you start praying now for discernment then when you come to those decisions you will know what to do more often than not. You will begin to trust yourself and your judgment and feel the hand of God in your decisions. And that is why I pray for wisdom and discernment each day – and I am not kidding about that. Those are two parts of the end of every prayer I say in the morning when I rise and at nite when I hit the sack... and in between usually too. What are you praying for? Are you taking initiative? Are you an active part of your life's journey or are you just hanging back waiting for stuff to happen? Because I will tell you this. If you are always on the lookout and aware, you will be ready for the decisions on the journey, big and small.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Windshield time...

Some of the best ministry you will ever do will be on the way to do ministry. i remember spending countless hours in Cobb’s vehicles over the many years we did ministry together. it all started in high school when i was one of the students in his ministry. he would pick me up in his grey astro minivan to hang out, go to eat, conferences and stuff like that. the day i accepted JC as my Lord and Savior was sitting in the passenger seat of that van, praying for God to take over my life in a deliberate way.

those years continued into the time i was on paid staff as a youth intern and a pastor under his care. we would go everywhere together. the adventures were endless. and on all of those drives we would have some serious talks, light-hearted ones and those that brought tears to my eyes. we went on missions trips together, more conferences, other churches for meetings and around town to see random peeps in our youth group and those on staff.

and no matter how short or far the drive, he always offered to drive and insisted that we roll together. it was that important to him to get some time with me and whoever he was ministering with at the time. and i never really understood that for the longest time. but he consistently fueled up his tank in hopes that he could do the same for my spiritual life. it was intentional ministry. i did not see it but he did. i look back on those conversations and times in the automobiles with him and thank God for the time he spent with me.

and because of that i do the same intentional ministry now. when i am spending time with pastors or other persons with whom i do leadership stuff, if there is a way for us to roll together then i do it. looking through the many windshields we shared i have learned some of the most important lessons of my life. are you doing the same? do you take even the smallest of opportunities to spend with your staff to build into them? until you see every opportunity as one to add value to others i suggest that you continue to learn more about leadership. we all have blind spots. and it is not bad. we are just lucky to have guys like Cobb in our lives to put that time in when we have no idea whats going on.

it took me years to learn, but i did. and i still do. get some windshield time with your mentors. whether they are going a short or far distance, get in the vehicle and drive. many times its the trips where very few to no words are spoken that you will learn the most. take what you can because those who believe in you are willing to give it and you should eagerly accept the guidance. look at the places in your life where God is trying to speak to you through others and begin to recognize meaningful and intentional relationships. ask your mentor, i’ll be s/he already knows, and will be impressed for you to see it too.

Training vs. Expectations

Your expectation of your volunteers and the training you give them should be equal. with no training there should be no expectation, etc. and that is the harsh reality of ministry. your staff is only going to be as good as you allow them to be. i remember early in my career as a pastor i would get frustrated with the peeps on my staff often. what i failed to realize was that most of them were young and inexperienced college kids, and forget having parents on staff because i had no credibility as a leader. but that was the problem... me.

the hard fact of my ministry was that i did not know what i was doing. and since i was straight out of high school i fell into the category that i make fun of all the time, and that is that of high school students who think they know it all - but don’t. yes, this was MO in the early years. and i was not just young in age but also young in ministry experience. i was good at the leadership stuff that i learned but anything above that was out of my league. and i was not good enuff to know it. i was living in my own world thinking that i was the best leader on the face of the planet.

John C. Maxwell speaks a lot of the “leadership lid.” and that leader cannot lead anyone effectively, for any long period of time anyway, who has a higher or equal lid to them. it is just impossible. peeps gravitate towards leaders that can stretch them and take them where they cannot go themselves. are you this kind of leader? when you get upset with the peeps in your ministry on the team it is really a reflection of your abilities to lead. you have to put more time in training your staff if you want them to be better. but here is the catch.

you have to put time into your own training before you ever do stuff with your staff. don’t be a buster and lie to them, letting them think you are trying to grow as a leader if you are not. you need to continue to educate, first yourself and then your staff. it’s like when a plane is having cabin pressure problems and the masks drop from the ceiling. what does the flight attendant say... for you to put on your own first and then help. same principle here. if you are trying to help others before yourself, you will ultimately run out of air and you will not only get yourself in trouble, but the very peeps you are trying to help. be a good leader. raise your leadership lid and never stop learning. the training will come and then you will not have expectations, your staff will set them for you.

Your personal agenda...

Let’s be real clear about this. do not push your spiritual agenda on any other person that you know. i remember going to the Rose Parade with my junior high group and had a blast every year. at the end there would always be the peeps directly behind it with signs like “God will send you to hell... unless you repent.” and every year our students would inevitably ask questions about whether or not that was an effective way to minister. well, i am a firm believer in that God can use whatever God wants to change the hearts of people... and that is all i have to say about that.


but that brings me to a more important question. how do you minister to others? are you the person who gets all offended and upset when others do not see God the way that you do? i hope not. i remember when i first started ministry and would do my absolute best to get peeps to love God, and if they did not then i would get all discouraged and be angry with both them and God. that caused me a bunch of strife and wasted energy because there was really only so much that i had control of and the rest was out of my control.

don’t push your spiritual agenda on others, it will just stifle your ministry. i am amazed at when peeps say that they are going to a new church because the one that they are leaving is not “feeding” them anymore. what does that mean anyway??? if you accept JC in your life then you are on the working side of ministry - no excuse. remember the ministry that you are leaving is prolly the same one that met you where you were at when you were one who did not believe in JC as your Savior. so, get over it. if you are not growing in your spiritual walk with God then blame one person - you.


stop complaining and start doing ministry. and remember that the peeps that are not “getting it” are the same group you were in at one time in your life. if your church or group is not doing well, don’t leave it. that is when it needs you the most. and don’t give me that bunk that there Lord is “moving you in a new direction.” most of the time it is just you running from a bad ministry with problems that you prolly helped create. so, get in your ministry, roll up your sleeves, stop blaming the Senior Pastor’s “lack of understanding” or anyone else’s shortcoming and help peeps see the vision. if you cannot communicate vision then you are not going to make it in this business for the long haul. I believe in you. I pray for you - the youth pastors of the world. you will shape the minds and hearts of today’s youth so that they will change the world for God tomorrow.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A badge you don't want...

Badges are usually a pretty cool thing to have. they signify that we were involved with something special or that we were on a team that achieved something great. let’s talk about a badge that you and i do not want to wear - the badge of Workaholism. this is not something that will enhance your ministry or help you in your relationship with your family, staff and those closest to you. when you put in mad hours at church, only to miss your nite out with the peeps or to be away from your family when they have been waiting at home for you, you best not do this for a very long time. and this whole mentality of working for God so it is ok that i neglect those closest to me and my health is not a good answer.


We’ve all done it. we stay late when everyone else is off campus because that is the best time to get stuff done, or going in extra early in the morning. this is ok once in a while but if it is a habit for you then you need to consider some changes. if you are the person speaking up in an interview about your workaholism, wearing as a badge of hard work and honor, then stop. i hope that churches and pastors see this as a lack of stewardship on your part. you need to be able to work within parameters that are healthy for you. and this is not a blog abut your sleep habits. some of you will need less sleep than others. whatever your number is, you know it. if you do not, just ask your family and they will let you know how much sleep you need to not be a straight up buster in the morning.

you know what you can handle in a healthy way. you know when your eyes are burning and it feels like no matter what you eat you feel like crap. But effectiveness is the key. it is the essential goal in all your madness of life. you only have so much to give. i did not do this well in the early years of my ministry and Cobb saw this in me. in fact, since he had known me through most of my high school years, he was able to see that potential when he brought me on. we had tons of talks about it. we both failed many times in our ministries to be true to our personal time. however, i feel much better now. and i still speak to Cobb about it often.

Avoid the workaholism badge, no one thinks its a good one to have. your peeps will eventually wonder why you can’t keep your composure. so if you are running from place to place to give peeps the water from your buckets of effectiveness, just remember that the harder you run for a long period of time, the more water will spill out. then you will have less to give to others. take your time, stop every once in a while and remember that ministry will always go on even if you are not there. you just have to do your best when you are in the game. you can only run at those RPMs for so long. slow down, get your pace, and run well.

Intentional stuff...

when i was employed with a church as a young pastor intern i was straight out of high school, recently graduated. this was the best job in the entire world! i knew there was tons of stuff that i could do and that God would let me, but this was it. and i did not even know it at the time. i just knew that when Cobb asked me to come work with him and do ministry that i would get to continue to have fun and make a difference in other lives. but i must admit, it was more about chillin’ with him than anything - that is the impact he had in my life over the couple years i had gotten to know him. i came to JC in this ministry and now had the chance to be employed by it.

i had been putting time into the church for the past couple of years, being there every nite of the week, consistently in my last years of high school. now i was getting paid to do that very same stuff. it was sweet. until then i never even thought youth pastors DID get paid. and for what? to hang out with kids and make a difference that in many cases will last a lifetime. i know this first hand because Cobb spent time with me six days a week. i would see him at my sports games and extracurricular events at school and then i would be at church the other days doing whatever i could to be around him. and i had no idea that i was doing it. he was just that cool. and when i say cool it is not like he was the most hip and with-it guy... but he cared. he never tried to be a teenager, but he was always wanting to relate with me and the other students in any way that he could. and for that he made a forever-impact in my life.

now, being on staff, i found myself in a great situation. and i realized that Cobb had always been a relationship kind of guy. he was always intentional and deliberate with his time. whether he was working, playing, with family or whatever, it was always intentional. i was always drawn to spending time with Cobb and his family because the guy did not change... you know what i mean. some peeps are one way with family and another with work, and so on. not Cobb. he was always adding value - to his family, me, his superiors, and even peeps he did not know on a personal level. are you that way as a pastor? that is what draws others to you and allows you to make a difference.

I was new and green in ministry on a paid level, taking a full-load-plus at APU, and working tons of hours at the church. but it never felt that way. i was always having fun. there were times when i drove back out to my dorm room after a long nite, followed by a long drive, of church stuff. i never once thought to myself “why am i doing this.” and that is how i knew i was in the right place. i knew because Cobb continually helped me to understand my gifts and talents in the Lord and what it meant for me to use those.

are you in the right place? you need to love what you do. and to do ministry i hope that on that list of stuff you love and need to do is add value to others. be intentional in your time and remember that others will remember you, it just depends on what they will remember you for. i want others to remember me as one who helps them achieve their goals, and above all that they would remember me for putting quality time into them. who puts time into you and how do you do this for others. this is ministry. it will make or break you. you are only as effective as compared to the way you care for others.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Keep it simple...

I was chattin’ it up with a young pastor the other day and he was telling me how he was doing in ministry. it was a hard season and being young was giving him tons of obstacles that were really difficult. I was humored to hear him say that he couldn’t wait to until ministry got easier, you know, when he was older and wiser and far from the hardships of ministry struggles. he is having a hard time with the senior pastor and other members of staff. they throw a bunch of stuff his way and it seems that he cannot get stuff done quick enough, no matter what he did. when deadlines were met he was given little to no recognition. and it was not really about the recognition as much as it was about always getting the tongue-lashing when he did something wrong. this guys does a lot. he is going to school for his degree, puts in ministry hours like you wouldn’t believe and shockingly does not get paid what he believes he is worth.

time to pay your dues... well, that is what i was told anyway. and it was rightly told to me. i felt like that a lot of the time in my early days of ministry. i continued to listen to him and remembered how much i had to get done all of the time. the difference between me and him was that i had the help and guidance of a mentor. this guy is on his own. he does not have a guy like Cobb in his life. he is the head honcho... in his early twenties. the guy’s got a family to take care of. he wants to continue to do ministry but does not know what he can do to hold on. i told him that if he really felt that God wanted him in ministry then hold on like crazy.

as i told this young guy in ministry, he was not alone. there were a lot of peeps in the same situation. i told him that a lot would change as he moved along in ministry only if he was willing to grow. and, some things would stay the same; stuff like the work load and the time required. and having a young family would definitely continue to be a concern and struggle. but it would be important for him to keep the message simple. I remember one of my mentors once to remember the acronym K.I.S.S. this stands for “keep it simple, stupid.” awesome. i know i heard that somewhere before but when i heard it from my mentor it really sunk in.

we get caught up too much and too often in insane thought that God needs us. we are part of this plan and are given the chance to have influence in many lives because God has called us. when i learned that it was not my plan and that i was going to have the ministry struggles for my whole life, that the old guys in ministry are still handling the same stuff, i was encouraged. and i still am. that is why i continue to talk to men and women who have been doing ministry way longer than me. they keep my mind on what matters, the stuff that i can influence and that the rest i need to not worry about. so, if you are struggling in ministry, just remember that if you keep it simple you may have a few less worries - you know, the parts of your life and ministry that you can’t really change. tell your mentors how you feel... you might just find they have and still are dealing with the struggles of ministry.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Know when to shut up...

Do peeps really understand how boring they are when they talk and talk and talk? you know, rambling on and on with no point except to hear themselves talk. most of us have been that person sometime or another, or maybe on several occasions. the joke that i often hear is the one where a keynote speaker gets up in front of a room full of pastors and says that she is going to talk for three hours, because of all people that could understand that kind of madness, it is this group of people who talk way too much on sunday morning. the room always erupts with laughter and everyone pokes and jabs at one another because they know... they are all guilty -- don’t be that pastor.


when you get up to say something, whatever the venue, make sure it is worth while. that means you must do your homework before weekend and mid-week programs. when you are n a small group time with your staff, students, or other pastors, be the person who is succinct and to the point. when i was younger i would speak at a midweek program to kids for up to thirty-five minutes and beyond... junior highers!!! by the time i was done talking the group time following would be cut short to like ten minutes or less. it was awful. i mean, it does not matter if you are the most dynamic person to ever step on a stage - don’t do that! finally one day a leader came up to me and lovingly asked if there was a way for me to cut down my sermon time and give them a little more time every once in a while. i got the hint.

i made it a point from then on that i would always make sure that i would always prioritize the group time over the message. sure, i could give the kids all of my seminary knowledge and all the Bible mumbo jumbo. but it was the time in groups that allowed them to get to know the other kids and their leaders. this helped my leaders raise their leadership abilities and it took a ton of pressure off of me. had that group leader not called me out i would prolly still be giving those long talks, amusing only myself and my leaders would not have had as much time to connect with the kids. Who needs to call you out?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Know it all

Let me begin by letting you know that you don’t know it all. however, many of us think that we do, and i am not just talking about the early years in our ministry but also as we move along. Gary Cohen writes in his book, Just Ask Leadership, “Leaders have to get over themselves and admit they can’t know it all.” man, are those some words of wisdom. i am speaking from experience. not from the experience of knowing it all but from that of thinking that i knew it all.

early in my years as an intern with Cobb i always thought that i was young and hip enough to have the edge of being fresh in ministry, with ideas that had not yet been seen. i was under the impression that we the talent and drive that God gave me (in my own mind, anyway) i already knew enough to take any ministry to new heights, and with little to no help at that! boy was i wrong... really, really wrong.

as i learned the hard way over the next couple of years that there was tons about ministry that i did not yet know and understand, much of it could have been fatal to my career as a youth guy. there were a lot of mistakes that i made over the course of that first season that my homies, who were also in youth ministry and green to the game, also made - but it jacked them up and ended up ending their ministries. the only difference between me and them was that i had Cobb as a mentor and superior to take the brunt of most of my stupidness. it was the difference maker for me in my ministry.

after some time of screwing up and Cobb covering my butt, i began to realize that if i listened to him and stopped trying to do things the hard way - on my own - that it would make life a lot easier. however, since i was young i still had to struggle through my own pride. He knew it and he told me often in our times together. but he never made me feel bad or that i was a jerk - although much of the time i was. he gently instructed me and helped me to see the stuff i needed to, knowing that if he continually put time into me that i would eventually be successful.

now, years later i can look back and see the times when i should have listened to him. he and i actually talk about those instances and laugh, mostly, about my younger years in ministry and how i was growing. and believe me, there were many growing pains in those years... for both Cobb and I. I had them - and he had to deal with them. I am so glad that he did not just dump me into the grease like he should have so many times. he always stuck by me and if it was not for him i would not have made it through.

so for all of you young peeps out there in the beginning years of ministry, listen to your mentor and do what he or she tells you to. it will save you a lot of hard lessons learned and for your mentor it will save a bunch of premature grey hair. you do not know it all. in fact, in just chillin’ with Cobb in the last week i realize that i continually need to seek his advice and guidance as i move on in ministry. the more i know, the more i realize i will always know less than i need to, and that is why i cling to my mentors... do you?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The next best thing

I just back from a conference and it was interesting that everyone was looking for the next best thing. I am not saying that is a bad part of your vision, but it cannot BE the vision. if it is then you are going to constantly be frustrated and always thinking that you are not good enough or that your ministry is not hip and with it enough. and this is what can really jack up your ministry. yes, we have to be on the up and up with the way that we communicate and the way that we present stuff to students, but it should not be the first thing on our minds.

what is most important is to get the message across, not to have an opinion that is so asinine that it blows people away and make them go crazy thinking about it. those thoughts and statements will come in time - trust me. but what i am learning more and more as i continue on in ministry is that my message and my relationships become more simple. and the more simple you communicate the Gospel the more effective you will be. the key is to know why you are doing ministry and learning to keep the vision the same, changing only the way you are getting there.

Oliver DeMille writes, “Live deliberately, and do not wait for institutions to change to meet your needs.” when you go to other churches or conferences you should not be looking for them to give you the next big thing or the one life-changing program or message. you should be looking for the stuff that fits in line with the way that you run your youth group. do not change the course completely and give it a new destination. chances are the the way you want to go is and awesome place to be and that is why you thought of it in the first place.

be deliberate in the stuff you do in your ministry. there is nothing new under the sun and god will not be overly impressed with the way that you are running program, the new lights, sanctuary and the like. what he will continue to like is seeing lives changed in your ministry and disciples being made. trust your instinct and know your calling. if god gives you a vision and it is affirmed by others, don’t be quick to change it. don’t give up.

whatever you do, do not let others discourage you from the path you are on. you know why you do stuff the way you do and you have peeps in your life to tell you when you are being dumb - listen to them and no one else. it will save you a lot of heartache. the next best thing is not ever really as good as you thought it would be anyway. it is usually just an old idea packaged in a different way. you know your ministry team and kids. so, you be the one to think of the new ideas... when they are necessary.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Don't lose focus...

One of my favrit parts of visiting midweek programs of various church youth groups is to watch how youth pastors run their ministry. it is usually a bunch of madness and it always seems that most of them are behind schedule, missing stuff, understaffed, etc. this is a continual reminder that the ministry animal is one that is hard to tame. the madness never really subsided over the years but we began to learn how to harness it. and you must learn to do this if you are going to be effective and add value to peeps on a large scale and for the long haul. People watch the way that you carry yourself and are constantly evaluating your passion and ability to do ministry.

Cheryl Skeen, general manager of Embassy Suites, says, "Sharing your passion for excellence is critical for effective leadership. Employees should know that excellence is the expectation and not the exception. (They) need to understand that we have to be better than the rest in order to succeed." now, if you are like most other youth pastors you do not have the luxury of employees. you are most likely surrounded by peeps who volunteer tons of time, personal time, that they could be giving somewhere else. and to think that you should not have to motivate - because after all, they should be volunteering time for God and not you - is not going to get you very far. yes, they are not doing it for you, but for God. yes, they should give out of the goodness of their dumb ol’ hearts. but if they do not believe in you and the passion that you have for the ministry, if they do not think that you are the leader to take the group to the next level, then they will eventually move on. and i applaud them for this.

you have to inspire. it is your job as the leader. you are not allowed to have a bad day... well, in front of them anyway. your bad days and complaining needs to be done on your own time and to the ones who mentor you. and if you are good about choosing your volunteer leaders then you will have less bad days. George Balanchine said, “I don't want people who want to dance; I want people who have to dance.” how true this is in ministry. we have all convinced someone to do ministry with us because we needed an extra leader, body, parking lot person, snack bar worker, whatever. and it always comes back to bite you in the butt when you have peeps who do not want to be there. but within this there is a fine line.

some peeps do not know that want to do ministry until you help them. for instance, there was a dad in our ministry who loved hanging out with the staff and the kids. he just thought he was too old and could not make an impact. i knew that he could. i inquired of him from other parents and adults who knew him and his heart. he just needed a little help knowing that he could be that guy. i could not convince him to chill in a group of guys, so i asked if he could do some stuff in the parking lot and help me with some of the games and stuff like that. he agreed. the guys was an instant favrit of the kids and it was not long after that we put him in a group where he should have been.

Honest Abe once said, “I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.” find the peeps who you think will make a difference and start to put time into them. as you do it more often you will make less mistakes. and the more you inquire of those smarter than you, it will speed up the process. you know what you are passionate about. put the time in and focus on the right stuff. what will peeps say about you and the way you run your ministry after you are out of the picture and long gone?

No time to quit

There will be multiple times in your career when you are going to want to quit. it is natural. we want to run away when life gets the hardest. but that is when you need to hang in. there will be times when you feel that ministry is not fair, that you are not making a difference, that you are not appreciated. Times when you question your calling and your ability to lead. this is what builds character.

no one said it was going to be easy. if you have chosen to be a youth pastor or some sort of lay leader then you gave up your right to a lot of stuff. you gave up your right to whine, complain and make excuses - at least that is what John Wooden says. the guy is one year short of a hundred and he is still spreading that message. what a lot of peeps know about him is that he won ten NCCA college basketball championships in his career. what most peeps do not know is that he had to work up to that feet over a long period of time. in his books he talks of the hard times and that it was not always an easy road. but the guy always stuck with it.

you may be in a church of ten students or a thousand. but we will all deal with the same thoughts, doubts and realities of youth ministry. you as the leader cannot quit. you are the only one who cannot quit. peeps will come and go in your ministry. many will say that they do not share your vision or do not think that you are going in the right direction. of course they are going to say that. that is why they are not the leader of your group and you are. leaders see things the way they should be and not as they are at the present time.

you have to stick to your guns and know that you are on the right track, no matter what. and you may be asking, “MO, sometimes i don’t know if i am even on the right track - what then???” well, my thought on that is that if you are confiding in men and women who are advising you, those more wise than you and further along in years as a Xtian, then that will up your chances of being on the right track. don’t cop out and not take chances. make assessments, get advice, and move forward. but don’t quit... ever!

sometimes you will have to cut your losses. there will be peeps in your ministry who do not get the vision and want to do stuff their way. now, if you are very clear about the way you are going in your ministry then you will not have any problem standing up for your principles and decisions. but this is where you need to be completely focused, knowing that you are on the right track. seek advice often and do not be afraid to be wrong.

a leader gives away all the credit and takes all the blame. it comes with the territory. peeps will talk crap about you and your failures, and most of the time they will be right. but if you fail forward, as John Maxwell says, you will not make that mistake again and your ministry will continue to grow. part of being a leader is making bad choices. but as you move on in experience you will do that less and less. you will become more intuitive and gain a better understanding about how to avoid the pitfalls. but you will not be able to do this without first failing.

the bottom line though, through all of this, is not never give up. Conrad Hilton once said, “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit.” so there you have it. if you dare to call yourself a leader, then the only time you should ever speak of quitting is when you are telling someone else that they should not do so. get out there and fight.