Adolescents have to work really hard in their education to build a foundation of knowledge, character, and experience. Parents have the hindsight to understand just how important a Middle School and High School education is, so we can serve the pre-teens and teenagers in our lives with a compelling vision for the “why” behind all of the hard work.
The more I work with adolescents and raise a few of my own, I realize that adolescents and adults are not that different from one another. In particular, we both desperately need to be reminded of the “why” behind what we do. We can all get bored, distracted, or even depressed for lack of vision (Proverbs 29:18). But when we are inspired by vision, we tend to get back that enthusiasm God created us to have and we press forward with hope and purpose for our future. Here’s how…
Parents (and grandparents) are an absolutely vital part of your student ministry. This is true of middle school, high school, and in some ways even college ministry. Regardless of their faith, whether Believers or non-believers, parents of teenagers are still the primary gatekeepers for their kid’s involvement in your student ministry. And even parents of college students, who may not really be a “gatekeeper” any longer, can still be a catalytic advocate for your ministry.
In the grand scheme of things, your relationships with parents may be just as important as your relationship with students. Parents enhance your student ministry by giving you ideas, feedback, resources, and prayer. Your whole ministry will benefit from parents who are appropriately involved as advocates, especially among other parents.
Non profits and churches depend on volunteers. A non-profit organization without a growing community of volunteers is like a ranch without enough ranch hands. Things break down and eventually the ranch goes belly up. A great vision or cause gets a non-profit started or a church planted, but without teams of healthy, motivated, volunteers to help, you will likely not go the distance. To finish what you have started you need a steady stream of volunteers joining in and remaining on board.
Volunteers freely offer to undertake a task. They want to do what they are doing or they wouldn’t be doing it. So can you recruit and retain more volunteers for your mission? Here’s how…
Burned out? Leaders who last focus on impact, not activity. Longevity depends on having the right motivation.
Did you know that the average tenure of a youth pastor is somewhere around 9 months? My friend Mike Dodge, with Canterbury Youth Services tracked the ministry of youth pastors for several years in New Zealand and he verified this statistic. It doesn’t take a rocket science to look at that number and think there must be some sort of a problem in the system.
If you invest in young people as a parent or youth leader, if you are a youth pastor or know a youth pastor, then this article is for you. I could suggest many reasons why youth pastors and youth workers on average don’t last very long in ministry, but I would rather approach this from a more positive angle. Young people in every culture and every city need committed leaders to pursue them with the Gospel. We can’t afford to avoid the topic of sustainability in youth ministry because it is one of student ministry’s greatest threats.
Years ago one of my good friends, Howard Baker (who is now the professor of Christian Formation at Denver Seminary), led me through what he called an “Adventure in Prayer.” It was a time of spiritual direction to slow me down and experience Jesus’ love for me in a time, as a leader, that I was being tempted a lot by performance and achievement. Howard’s guidance through Scripture nurtured my soul. He pointed me toward some passages that continue to bring life and more life as I consider them (Psalm 63, 23; Isaiah 55; Psalm 139; Isaiah 43; Hosea 11:1-4).
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! -Galatians 2:20-21
Our faith muscles are strengthened as we meditate on the grace of God, not on his impossible standards.
Can you imagine ever saying to someone that “Christ died for nothing!”? Yet the Apostle Paul says that in our actions and in our beliefs we may as well be saying that out loud. That is really convicting. I think leaders in particular sometimes get baited by performance, goals and expectations put on them and fall into this trap of trying to live up to impossible standards.
I recently had a day of parenting that I would call a failure. I really love my kids so when I feel like a failure as a parent that can be really discouraging. The next morning as I was spending time with the Lord trying to restart so that I would not let my sense of defeat cause me to lose heart, I was reminded of a metaphor that helped.
LIKE THAT FEELING OF FAILURE WHEN YOU HAVE LOST A GAME
I have coached for a long time and currently I’m coaching a 12 and under baseball team. It is inevitable in any sport that a player is going to have a bad day. I have walked my kids through many of these situations and one common thread stands out. As the parent standing with my kids as they feel a sense of failure or defeat, my hope is always that they can simply learn from it and then move on quickly to the next opportunity for growth. It is hard to watch one of my kids remain downcast over a bad day on the field. What I love is when one of my kids can deal with their emotion of disappointment in a reasonable amount of time, and then find something to learn from and lift their chin and move on.
It sounds cliche to say that what matters from failure is how you deal with it and move on. But it is true. And I see in the Scriptures that our heavenly Father has a similar perceptive. God expects us to fail, massively, and often. Yet similar to a parent who is pulling for their child to learn, grow, and move on… God has that kind of perspective.
CONTENTMENT COMES FROM HUMILITY
A passage that encourages me along these lines is Psalm 131. It is a psalm about contentment. And contentment comes from humility.
My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore. (Psalm 131)
LISTEN TO YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER’S VOICE WHEN YOU FACE DEFEAT
How are you handling small or massive failures or defeat? Are you like the child after a game who keeps his head down and can’t snap out of it.. making a big deal out of something that really in the grand scheme of things is not that big of a deal? I’m grateful that although I met discouragement recently by a bad day of parenting, that once again (as usual) God’s Word helped me snap out if it and just learn and move on in hope.
- Identify a recent time when you felt defeated. How did you handle it?
- Have you ever tried to cheer up or encourage another person after the lost a sports game? Can you remember a time when someone you know sat in disappointment for way too long? Was that hard for you to watch? Why?
- Consider this week how God the Father truly views failure and defeat. Like the Psalm above encourages us, try to “calm and quiet yourself like a weaned child” in the lap of your Father, and then chin up and move on. It’s probably not as big of a deal as you have made it out to be in God’s perspective.
- Remember what Job cried out in great hope: “I know that my redeemer lives…” (Job 19:25). God is actively at work redeeming you especially in the midst of your failures and defeat.
Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)
Leadership Training In the Jungle of Costa Rica
Leading with vision is not easy. It does not look like a casual stroll through the park on a wide well-maintained path. Rather, leading with vision looks more like a jungle adventure, meandering through ups and downs, scaling sharp cliffs, making progress at times, and at other times standing still. One of the observations I’ve made about leading with vision is that that good visionary leaders understand the “Vision-Values Cycle.” Whether you are leading a small group, classroom, a business, or a family… here are some insights that will help you stay on your mission by using the Vision-Values Cycle Tool.
New research on Twitter’s global impact has implications for leaders who want to leverage influence in their ministries.
Since I fly alot to work with leaders around the world, some new “twitter trends” research on the global impact of Twitter’s social media caught my ear. Steve Inskeep & Shankar Vedantam’s piece called, Why Twitter Ties Resemble Airline Hub Maps has some potentially interesting implications. Apparently two assumptions about Twitter are totally wrong: 1) Geography no longer matters, 2) Twitter is a truly cross-cultural medium. Instead, Barry Wellman, a sociologist from the University of Toronto, did a study of 1/2 million Twitter users and found some Twitter trends worth considering. Those who use Twitter care about 1) Local interests, and 2) People who live in similar cities as they do. So if your Twitter followers are an airline flight away from the city you live in, they are more likely to follow you.