It begins with a lump in the throat, followed by a cold sweat and clammy palms, and it finishes with a sinking feeling. It’s the moment you realize you’ve “failed” in youth ministry.
Today I thought I would share some of my most cherished moments from the “How Not to Be a Youth Pastor” handbook.
1. The "unbroken arm." Imagine your student who is “that kid.” You know—the one who needs to push all of your buttons, and you are too proud to admit it? At camp I say four times, “Don’t stand on the trash can that is 5 feet in the air. We are playing basketball, and you could fall off.” Fourteen-year-old Malcolm ignores me. He falls, then grabs his arm, screaming, “It’s broken!” Me, in an award-winning moment: “No, it’s not. Go play basketball like you were asked.” Malcolm finally begs me to go to the nurse.
The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them” (Gen 11:6).
When I travel to West Africa, my second home, it’s always frustrating. I know some of the language and can make my way through, but not well enough to really get anything done. So, my wife has to step in and speak the language (Her native home).
There’s a difference between just communicating and speaking the same language. When we speak the same language, a few words have the power to paint a much larger picture. And when trying to cast vision, you can’t just communicate, your words need the power to paint mind pictures.
Every leader will get one or more at some point in his or her leadership: the harsh, critical letter that is unsigned and unidentifiable. I recently asked via Twitter how leaders respond when they get the anonymous letter. The responses were fascinating.
First, it was evident that many leaders have received such letters. Second, most leaders and leadership groups view writers of these letters with a fairly negative view. They do not understand why they do not have the courage to criticize with clear identity, regardless of the consequences the writer may think he or she will face.
I hate bad stats. They undermine the credibility of Christians and can confuse the issues. But when we apply stats wisely, they can be of great benefit.
While I often say, “facts are our friends,” they aren’t always friendly.
So while I often say “facts are our friends,” they aren’t always friendly. For example, in 2009, LifeWay Research found that 55 percent of church attendees believed they had grown spiritually over the last year, while only 3.5 percent of those displayed any measurable growth. That’s not a very warm and fuzzy stat, but it’s an honest one.
Two years ago, I sat in on a breakout session led by Joy Bowen at Orange Conference 2011. Within the first five minutes she used the word ‘copious.’
I was hooked.
Joy’s topic focused on mobilizing kids and youth to lead in the context of the weekend worship services. And her first point of business was to ask:
What’s the difference between a student leader & a student helper?