What's up everyone? I was thinking the other day, if I could go back in time and give myself some tips when I first started in youth ministry as a volunteer lead youth pastor what would it be. So I came up with a top ten list. I'm going to break this into two parts. These are in no particular order of importance so here we go!
1: Your first priority should be your relationship with God.
My first year in youth ministry I pack the ministry on my back and ran to the finish line. I sacrificed my time with God and said it's for the youth ministry, I can't be selfish. I have to help these students in their relationship with God. But I didn't realize if I didn't have a good relationship with God I was a weak leader. After the first year I was burnt out and ready to call it quits. Then I learned this lesson and got back in the game. Don't sacrifice your spiritual health for your students.
2: Family second.
My oldest daughter and I were talking one day and she said, "Daddy I can't wait until I'm in youth group." (She was 4 at the time) I said, "Why's that hon?" "So I can spend time with you." You talk about a slap in the face. From that point I promised my kids and my wife to be more present. Don't sacrifice your family for the ministry. For one your setting a bad example for your students, but worse than that it may cost you everything that is important in your life.
3: Stay or get into shape.
Your physical well being is of the utmost importance. I was around 185 lbs and running half marathons 4 years ago when I started I youth ministry. Now? I'm 230lbs, can barely run a mile, and had to enter a weight loss competition to get back into shape. Since I've started my weight loss journey I can tell a HUGE difference in my ministry. I have more energy, I'm in a better mood, and can keep up in the games. Health = good ministry.
4: Busy does not equal productive.
You don't have to schedule an event every single month to have a productive ministry. The first year I was in ministry I scheduled two events a month. From concerts to clothing drives to fellowship socials. I will make a 100% money back guarantee that we were the busiest youth ministry in our association. But no decisions, no new believers, no growth. What was I doing wrong? I thought programs and events equalled success. You'll be much more successful if you concentrate on depth of relationships and not business.
5: Numbers do not equal success either.
This goes against everything most people believe in youth ministry. But I would rather have a group of ten on fire for Jesus teenagers than 50 that are there for snacks and to hang out. While I have no problem with those types of students being at our programs, maybe just one message will get through, when I have three students show up for a discipleship class but they are completely sold out and ready to learn and have that deep relationship with Christ, that my friend is success. I'm an example of this, when I was in youth group in school I was a screw up. Oh I was "saved" but I lived a life so far from God it wasn't funny. But just the example the youth leaders set in my life influenced me later in life. So don't think your not winning, God works in his time not ours.
Just Keep Swimming!