I came across this article from Youthworker called ‘3 important tips for the new youth worker’. There was this sentence that made me think: ‘If I could transport myself back in time, there is a great deal of advice I would give to my younger self.’ In the article Emily Ingram lists three things that she would do differently, three things that she would advise her younger self: realize you are the adult and not youth, don’t focus on just the popular kids and don’t choose talent over obedience.

I agree fully with her advice and can understand why she would name those three things. It made me wonder: what specific advice would I give my younger self? I was 24 when I started out as a youth leader and not surprisingly, I’ve learnt a lot since then. Here’s what I would advise young Rachel:

Focus. Focus. Focus.

You can’t change everything at once and you’ll fail if you try. So consciously decide on a few priorities and make them your focus. Everything else will just have to wait. And that may be hard, because you can see what needs to be done, what needs to be changed. But if you try to fix everything at the same time, you’ll end up with mediocre results. On the other hand, focus on a few things will result in great improvements in that area.


It’s a marathon, not a sprint

I’m one of those people with a seemingly endless amount of energy. Yet I’ve overextended myself in the past in such a way, that it almost made me quit. Looking back, I can see that I neglected to take a breather, to allow for rest and renewal. You can’t work seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. You need a Sabbath, you need a break, you need vacation. Plan this and stick to the plan, otherwise it will never happen. And don’t allow to feel like you can’t be missed, because it’s a lie. The ministry, the church and the world won’t fall apart just because you’ve decided to take a week off.

Be. Then Do.

I’m a do-er. I like to do things. I love to do lists and being able to cross off stuff that I’ve done. And I love doing things for God, using my gifts, talents, time and energy to advance His Kingdom. But simply being, like being in His presence, spending time at His feet, that’s not my thing. Not naturally anyway. I’ve had to learn it and it’s something I wish I had learnt sooner. Because I need to be first, and then do. Everything I do needs to be grounded in my relationship with God, needs to come out from the time I spend in His presence. If not, I will slowly drift away from His true purposes and run the risk of doing things just for the sake of being busy. So I have learnt to start every day with half an hour to an hour of being. Reading God’s Word, praying, meditating, simply being. And then I get to work.

What would you advise your younger self, what are the main lessons you’ve learnt along the way? Share them in the comments!