I just sat in my car, caught up in the radio program. The soothing voice was discussing how us parents seem to have our kids in too many activities.
“Are parents taking time to just be and get to know their kids?” the person behind the voice wanted to know. The speaker made a statement I have heard many times: “We aren’t created to be human doers. We are human beings.” He went on to press that culture dictates how much we push our kids to do. Are we teaching them to be?
Listening, I thought how often I have felt guilty that I don’t allow my own kids to do more. Good friends of mine have “well-rounded” children who are involved in athletics, music lessons, the school play and chess club. In contrast, my kiddos only are allowed to engage in one activity per season.
With three kids at the same stage in life (sixth, seventh and eighth grades, currently), we can just about manage the one thing for each of them. The speaker was pushing us parents to allow our kids to be involved in less for the sake of time together and building purposeful relationships.
It got me thinking about youth ministry and how I can have a tendency to run things. I fill the calendar with lots of activities. They are well-meaning, and I try hard to be planned and purposeful. We have outreaches, retreats and missions trips. There are special guest speakers and creative ways to interact. Admittedly, if I pull off a great talk, then it feels great.
After hearing the radio show, I started wondering if I like activities because I can sit on the sidelines and cheer someone on while not engaging.
Am I really afraid of relational ministry? Do I like activities because they are detailed and definitive?
Relationships are sticky. They are an ongoing process. When you get to know someone more deeply, they share fears, frustrations, doubts, joys, sorrows and expectations with you. We realize we can’t fix or save or heal people; we can simply show them love, grace and Christ. If I have a ministry that truly has a relational focus, what would it do?
I am wondering if sometimes the way I set up my ministry actually adds to the culture of creating a doer and I am not supporting the family to learn to BE:
- BE still and know He is God.
- BE present in the moment.
- BE a servant and follower and someone who is with Jesus wherever He goes.
Now, let’s not move to an extreme where we have no activities. Sometimes hands-on learning is the best method to meeting a student. It’s more about focusing away from me the leader and what I am teaching to the student, their family and what they are learning.
I’m wrestling with this idea that I may need to create more space to allow us all to do just that—wrestle with the hard stuff and expect Jesus to show up and direct my leaders to do the same.
Could or should we create an integrated culture that helps us all just be? What do you think?
Leneita Fix is the director of ministry development for Aslan Youth Ministries, a family-focused urban ministry serving Monmouth County in New Jersey and Haiti. She has been working in some form of youth and family ministry for almost 22 years.
For the original article, visit blog.simplyyouthministry.com.