Halfway through my 3rd year as a youth minister, I decided it was time to start XLT in our parish. Things started out really strong with a great musician, a great new associate pastor, and a decent number of teens.
As we moved toward spring, however, attendance decreased and excuses increased from parents and teens alike. I felt annoyed and let down by the teens. I felt embarrassed in front of the staff and my peers. And, most of all, I felt like I was failing God (Maybe you’ve felt this way, too?).
One evening, I was expressing my disappointment to our priest. I wanted to know “why we were failing” at getting teens before the presence of God. Father knocked me on my butt when he said, “Rebecca, a few teens isn’t a failure! Even if only one teen showed up, I would still do Adoration and hear that child’s confession. Because that one child’s soul is a victory for God.”
The victories in youth ministry aren’t as few and far between as we might think they are. However, our “Youth Ministry” vision blurs things so that sometimes we only see failure. Thankfully, the Lord has 20/20 vision. Even when WE can’t see the victories, HE CAN! It is time for us to stop complaining long enough to celebrate the great things God is doing.
Here are some victories to celebrate:
- A change of plans. Something goes wrong and now your Life Night is RUINED! Or, is it? Instead of getting mad, get glad! You have been given a chance to be a spontaneous youth minister – to get creative, to do the unexpected, to think on your feet. Celebrate the victory of having a very unique job, full of surprises!
- ”You came!!” A small crowd can seem like a bad thing, when really it’s great thing! It’s the chance you rarely have to enjoy the loyal teens who always show up and whose presence is often taken for granted. It’s an opportunity to really be with them – actually playing a round of Uno or Catch Phrase with your teens instead of just moderating it. Celebrate the victory of the presence of those teens who DID show up. Shower them with loads of love and attention!
- Sowers & Waterers You feel beaten down, burned out, under appreciated, and like you are the “low man” on the staff totem pole. However, saying “yes” to our youth means saying “yes” to the calling to be a seed “sower” and “waterer”, not necessarily a reaper. Youth ministers may never see the fruits of their labor. But, what kind of harvest would there be if no one put the seed in the ground or watered the seeds already there? Celebrate the victory of being called to God’s team.
- They said WHAT? There are times when you will hear “thank you” (if it hasn’t happened yet, it will!). When this occurs, stop and recognize what has just happened. The Lord has blessed you with a tiny peek into the good that comes from your constant “yes” to Him. CELEBRATE! A moment of clarity for a teen or parent, no matter how brief, is a victory for the kingdom.
Let us pray each day for vision to see the won victories for God and to celebrate them!