If you’re anything like me, you feel a little stressed in youth ministry right now. The number of teens faithfully attending is declining, summer events still need planning, Confirmation is happening (or just happened), graduating teens are politely demanding letters of recommendation, and there’s still this little thing called life. Add all of that up and life in ministry can get overwhelming pretty quickly.
Finding myself feeling a little tense, I’m reminded of the things a few great youth ministers taught me early on.
- Keep God first. Schedule Mass in your calendar and actually go. While you’re at it schedule some extra prayer time. This isn’t just about maintaining your sanity – keeping prayer and worship as a focus is a great witness to teens and those around you and it will do wonders for your sense of patience.
- Organize. Create some sort of to-do list that is easily seen. I keep a giant white board in my office and have things organized by project and date. This way I can easily see what needs to be done and I get the satisfaction of taking something off my list. Since you’re doing that, why not clean up that storage closet you call an office. You’ll be surprised by how much more work you willing to do when your office is clean and inviting.
- Utilize your Core team. Invite core members to take on temporary roles and thank them for the ways they are bettering youth ministry. Most times even the busiest volunteer will take on a little extra if they know it’s needed and appreciated. Honestly, why do you think they’re volunteering in the first place?
- Leave the office. Take a walk or grab lunch with a friend. Getting away for short periods of time not only boosts your mood but studies say it actually boosts productivity too.
- Celebrate victories. Youth ministers don’t often hear “thank you” or get to know the impact of their effort. At the same time, the teens we minister to don’t always hear “good job” for the good things they do. Celebrating a teens victory will both encourage them and encourage you.
- Remember your health. Stuffing a greasy, semi-warm meat patty in your face is easy. Skipping exercise is even easier! But the hard work of eating well and hitting the gym boosts your mood so you’ll feel better about yourself and the ministry you do. More importantly, taking care of yourself teaches teens the importance of taking care of themselves.
- Keep your primary vocation primary. If your family and friends are stating how much they miss you, they’ve taken a backseat to your ministry. We’re often tempted to falsely put the titles of Youth Minister or Core Member above the titles of Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, or beloved child but being who you are does much more for the Kingdom than any ministry title could ever do.
So there you have it. This is by no means an exhaustive (get it?) list but it’s a great start to recovering and good way to keep ministry healthy in the future. Know that I’m praying for you and thanking God for all the great things you’re doing in the lives of teens.