“Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work He had been doing, He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had undertaken.” Genesis 2:2
I was in college when I heard a homily that took its main point from this verse. The priest emphasized how after creating the world and humanity, God rested and reflected how good creation was, how good His work was. The pastor encouraged us to do the same in our lives.
We were challenged that after a big project or meeting a goal to take time to pause, reflect, and rest. He recognized that we often finish one thing just to race to the next, never taking time to stop and rest. In not taking a Sabbath rest, we also lose out on appreciating the good work we are able to accomplish.
As packed as a youth ministry schedule is, it can be easy to skip over this “seventh day.” Despite that we are all incredibly busy, it is still important to take time to do this. By taking time to pause and see what was good, we are also able to see what we need to do in the year to come. In a ministry that is often considered thankless, to pause and see what was good, see how God moved, see what the Lord did, is encouraging. Some years it might be hard and the list might be short; other years the fruit might be abundant.
Although youth ministry really never has a “down time,” I find that at the end of the school year but before the summer events get going, is a good time to look back on the year. I can be tempted to move straight ahead to planning the next year and only looking at what needs improving or changing. If I take time to see what good the Lord did, it’s encouraging not only for me but the Core Team as well.
Here are a few ways to enter into a “seventh day”:
- Brainstorm with the Core team a list of “How Good it Was…” This is a list of any and all blessings from the past semester. What you might highlight might be very different from what they see as an accomplishment.
- As a team, spend time thanking the Lord for all the good that happened over the year (or on a retreat, etc).
- Make a list of all the things that youth ministry offered throughout the year; it can be a sort of state of youth ministry. It can also help if you need a report to share with the pastor or pastoral council.
- Keep a folder of affirming emails. I once heard a youth minister say to keep even the neutral emails because youth ministry can be so tough! Another youth minister said he shares these emails and notes with the rest of the Core Team (if appropriate).
Of course, in doing these things, the affirmation is not to pat ourselves on the back or give ourselves consolation. We certainly are not in ministry to feel good about ourselves. Instead, it is to be able to take an honest look at the good that has happened and to be able to praise and thank the Lord for what He’s doing through us. It also can be an encouragement for the times that ministry seems more like a burden then a joy. It is great to be able to reflect on good fruit when it seems that there is none. So, in the busyness that youth ministry brings, be sure to find your “seventh day.”