Guest post by Ronald Long
Man, tonight I am struggling.
On the outside, I’ve got no good reason. We had a KILLER weekend at church. Students showed up in more ways than one. I’ve been handing over more and more ministry to them and they are doing great with it. They’re leading the games. They’re playing the worship songs. They’re making the announcements.
During service, I got to baptize a student who’s been struggling, but wanted to take the next step in their faith journey. It was an awesome moment.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been dealing with some pretty heavy stuff, but the senior pastor and my direct boss have been super supportive and helpful and encouraging.
So why do I feel like a let down?
What’s this nagging doubt that I’m not making a difference in the lives of the students I work with?
We all go through seasons and I’m recognizing that I’m in need of some reflection and action.
Here’s what I’ve seen in my own ministry and life. Alongside it, I’ve written out what I plan to do about it. Maybe it’ll help you too.
Plan rest after busy seasons
I’m coming off of the busiest time of the year for our students ministry that isn’t right in the middle of summer craziness. We just launched our fall small groups, had our first big parent meeting of the year, trained all the new small group leaders, and celebrated our promotion Sunday.
I’m wiped out!
This next week, I’m planning some “white space” into my calendar so I can recharge and refresh after working some really crazy hours and being under some stressful deadlines.
Big new plans come with doubts
There has never been a time in my ministry where I’m on stage less during our “big program” time. I’m giving more and more stage time away to students. All the while, I’m having doubts. What if it all doesn’t work? What if they don’t step up? What if it’s all a terrible idea?
Seriously, it’s a little more work, and a little less the way that I would do it, but it’s exciting to see students serving. I know I’m risking a lot because it might LOOK like a student lead the game. Which is another way to say, it’s out of my hands.
I’ve got it on my to-do list to make sure that I train these students to do a job they’ll be proud of. And hoping that my letting go means more ownership of the ministry.
Spiritual Warfare is a thing
“Praying for you. Discouragement happens, and it’s hard to deal with. But I don’t imagine the devil would waste his time discouraging someone unless he really was making a difference. I assume that is the case for you.”
I got this message from a buddy who’s also in ministry while writing this post. I’m reminded that Spiritual Warfare happens everywhere and that I’m not immune.
I know I need to be reading Scripture, listening to worship music and worshiping along. I need to pray and trust God. He’s got this. And He’s in control. I can’t screw this up enough so that He can’t make something beautiful out of it.
Have ministry connections that encourage you
My buddy who sent me a message does not live in my state. He doesn’t even live in my timezone. But he saw me asking for prayer in a Facebook group of other youth pastors. I have friends in ministry who get it. The ups and downs, highs and lows, wonderful rollercoaster that is ministry.
I’m about to head to the greatest student ministry conference ever. It’s called DYM100. Maybe you’ve heard of it? I went last year and it was epic. I can’t wait to reconnect with other student pastors and be encouraged by them.
Have support. Find it wherever you can. If it’s in town, make it happen! If you live two hours away from the next youth ministry, get online and make connections with other youth workers. Be in a community that will pray with and support you.
You never know when you may need it.