I was talking to a youth worker about how many nights out she was on a typical week. “I don’t know,” she said, “maybe 4 or 5?”
Now, 4 or 5 is a lot of nights out in a normal week. A lot. But, I’m also in the thick of the youth ministry trenches myself and realize this happens – once in a while. But the part of the answer that concerned me the most was that she didn’t know how many nights she was typically out.
Night out, split shifts, impromptu meetings or an expected student crisis – these are just reality in youth ministry and you should know that going in. But being unaware of how many nights out you are is unforgiveable. Here’s where to start:
Track your nights out
You have to have a baseline of information to work with – so for a month just track your nights out. Be intentional about this, include church services, events, meetings and other functions. I would choose to omit an occasional phone call, but definitely include hospital visits or unexpected student counseling. Start by seeing just how many nights out you are out in the first place.
Learn to say no
Once you have a number, you’ve got to focus on your priorities and learn to say no. Saying no isn’t easy or fun, but you’ll last longer in youth ministry and be far more effective if you say yes to the “most importants” instead of everything.
Find ways to subtract nights out
You want to swing by and encourage all 5 of your small groups? Visiting groups is awesome – I recommend bringing a couple packages of Oreos and a gallon of milk – but maybe shoot a quick video they can play at the start of the lesson with a greeting to all of your students. Find ways to multiply yourself with technology or empowering other people to step up and lead.
If I bump into you soon, expect me to ask you how many nights out you’re at right now!