I remember my first Life Teen Training Convention 6 years ago. I was fresh into a youth ministry career and was asked to do Life Teen for the first time at our small parish of 250 members. During my first convention, Randy Raus had said, “Be prepared for when you do things for Christ, Satan will try to trip you.” I remember thinking to myself, “I didn’t sign up for this!”
Think about it: did any of us sign up for anything but making a difference in a young person’s life? We felt empowered and ready to change the world. It didn’t take long for me to recognize the spirit of defeat lingering in the shadows. That is why Acts 2:42 is so important for our youth ministry; it offers the encouragement we need to fight the good fight for our teens.
Acts 2:42 states, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
When we feel isolated, it is Satan at work in our ministry. We were never designed to fight for our teens by ourselves. In order to stay strong and vibrant, we need to network with other youth ministers. Back in St. Paul’s day he had a great encourager in St. Barnabas to help him fight the good fight. Barnabas was known at the Son of Encouragement amongst the apostles. Let’s take a look at the word encouragement. The root of the word is courage. Courage is important in encouragement because it takes courage to lay down our own pride to build others up that may surpass us. It means allowing others in the same field to build us up. It means recognizing we do not have all the answers and we must lay down our pride to ask others for help and encouragement.
We all need a Barnabas in our lives don’t we? Here are ways to find our encouragers to fight the good fight when we begin to feel isolated.
- Go to your local Acts 2:42 Gathering! The Act 2:42 meetings are opportunities for parishes in your area gather with a Life Teen Area Contact to pray, eat and connect. This is a perfect opportunity to network together with youth ministers. It is a way to build each other up and to lay down any concerns or thoughts that we have our “acts” together! Give your Area Contact a phone call to find out when and where to meet.
- Talk to your Priest. He is not just your boss; he is also your spiritual father. Seek encouragement from him and be quick to offer encouragement in return.
- Increase your prayer life. When in doubt, pray it out in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Offer your feelings of isolation, frustration and concern. Also, ask for prayers for yourself and your ministry. We must aggressively fight the enemy when he seeks to nullify our growth and good works by making them invitations of pride. Lay down our pride and ask for prayer. It is good to be real and recognize that we don’t have it altogether.
In return be a Barnabas to others by being an encourager. Take the time to listen, pray and build each other up. Instead of talking only about the negative, seek to find the blessings so you can find how God is present.
God never meant for you to go it alone. God gave each of us a Barnabas, just like he did for St. Paul. We all need someone to lean on. Let’s pray, support and encourage one another.