Last summer my wife and I were prepping for a trip to visit my family. On the trip back from visiting with them we had planned on camping in a few places to extend the holiday. As we were packing, I realized that I had yet to find the knife I normally bring with me. I searched and eventually found it, but the sad fact was it had a little rust on the blade. I was so annoyed that it had gotten rusty and dull! But the problem was I had done nothing to keep it sharp.

I think we are a lot like that. We as youth workers are often working hard but forget to keep mentally sharp. We forget to take in some continuing education. But I believe that continuing education is the key to staying on our toes and being effective in ministry. It is in this education that we learn better practice, are reminded of things that have slipped our minds and where we can be refreshed by something that we need to substantiate us in our battle against critics.

So what are ways that you can keep sharp:

  • Go to a youth ministry conference– These are good places to learn from other in the trenches youth workers
  • Take a course– Go beyond a youth ministry conference and take a college or seminary course to stretch that mental muscle.

OK … so you don’t have the cash to do these things (which many don’t)

  • Buy a book– I currently have a systematic theology book and portable seminary on my desk which I am working through. Sure I don’t get a ton of opportunity to dive into them, but I am slowly getting it done, and it feels great.
  • Watch/Listen to a podcast– Find someone to listen to that will stretch and grow your ministry. (Cheap and Easy for many is the podcast attached to DYM)
  • Talk with critical thinkers– I love sitting with a friend of mine who is a mental giant. We discuss practice and beliefs. We sit and critically analyze what we see going on in the church and strategize how to make a difference in those places.

There are probably a ton of other things that you can do to keep sharp. But if you aren’t taking care of yourself you will get rusty and dull. So do yourself and your ministry a favor and stay sharp, or begin to become sharp again.

What are some ways/places you have sharpened your mind?

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: or Twitter: @CorbinKyle