Lessons from my 3 year anniversary at Alexandria Covenant Church

Lessons from my 3 year anniversary at Alexandria Covenant ChurchLast month, February 18 to be exact, was my 3 year anniversary at Alexandria Covenant Church. Not long, I know, but still significant. I’ve grown and learned a lot through my time here so far. Here are some of the learning points for me. Most of them are things we all know already, but it’s one thing to know it, another thing to experience it.

1. Anything that’s instant and fast is rarely as good as something that takes time. That’s certainly true with food and it definitely applies to relationships, as well.

2. I can’t have a relationship with every kid in the youth group. With a group of around 200 active students every week, that’s obviously unrealistic, but I’d like to think I can at least have a casual relationship with most of them. Unfortunately, there are some who won’t even make eye contact with me or, if I try to initiate a conversation, it’s like sitting down to talk with a fire hydrant. Kinda disappointing, even hurts a little, but I guess that’s why it’s so important to have such a great team of adult leaders who can connect with the students who avoid me.

3. Sometimes doing the right thing means doing the very unpopular thing. I cash in chips of credibility in order to do what’s best for people when they don’t even know it or like it.

4. People’s perceptions of me usually translate into their perception of the ministry, both the good and the bad. So I try to just be myself and stay true to my values in ministry and hope that it rubs off.

5. I really need to spend more of my time focusing on what I’m good at and be more intentional about delegating everything else, or be content to let a some things slip by.

6. It’s always great to have open and honest communication with your sr. pastor. I definitely value that about my relationship with John, and the mutual respect and trust we share.

7. Not every good idea someone has is a good idea for our ministry. That’s especially true for all the church companies who are competing for our budget dollars, but it’s also true internally regarding ideas from parents, teens, and youth leaders. Sometimes I must be the guardian of the vision to keep us on course. Saying no to a good thing is often very necessary.

8. The pressure to perform and run growing programs is always there, even when no one puts it on you. It’s self-inflicted, probably based on insecurity. I have to be intentional about reminding myself that the focus should be on growing people, not programs, which is often a much slower process. See #1.

Posted on March 11, 2010

  • Hey man. Great thoughts. I really can relate to #5. I've always been a "do-it-yourself" kind of guy and so often things suffer because of that. I think it's just one more reminder from God that we were made for community.

    • It's good to remember to use the people you have who want to help 'cause if your volunteers don't feel needed they're not going to stay around too long. Then you really will have to "do-it-yourself" which like you said, doesn't reflect the community God put together.

  • I’m sorta new to your site… Did you work at another church before this one?

    • Yeah, I've worked at a couple different churches before this one, in TX, VA, and PA.

  • Dude (#7. Not every good idea someone has is a good idea for our ministry.) is so true.
    My problem is when these "good ideas" come from parents or very important people in the church. This reality is something I am dealing with right now.

    It is so difficult to say NO to people/parents in your church who have influence, status, & great intentions. Some times I feel like I have to say YES because of political reason rather than convictions. I hate that.

    By shutting down parents' good ideas this means: 1. they will not like me. 2. their kids will stop coming to youth group. 3. they will talk to senior leadership about my poor leadership and performance. and 4. I will continually have to confront and affirm these parents that I really like them, but not their ideas.

    • Ahh yes, you hit the tension right on the head!

      As you know, we are ultimately responsible to the Lord for the ministry He's entrusted to us, even moreso than the people we "work for." I try my best to keep my conscious clear with how I spend my time and the direction of the ministry, so I give myself the freedom to say "no" and do the right thing even if it causes tension with some people. Fortunately, I think I've earned the respect to be able to say no here, so I get away with it more than other youth leaders might.

      To the consequences you mentioned:
      1. Yeah, that may be an outcome, but so what?
      2. Yeah, their loss, right? And your gain!
      3. Hopefully I already have a good enough relationship with senior leadership that they trust me and fully support me, and they clearly understand and know our vision, too, so ultimately they would probably agree with my decision.
      4. In my ministry, they usually just stop coming to me. Sometimes they leave and go to another church, which honestly is a big relief for me. I'd rather they go water-down someone else's ministry where the leader doesn't have a spine and cares too much about what others think.

  • Great lessons learned Tim. I just posted on perceptions as well (your number 4) at The great thing is that perceptions can change and peoples view of you and your ministry can change – which is always a good thing.

  • David

    I like number 7. Its good to have some sort of filter or grid to process everything that comes across your desk! Or when be able to explain to parents why you are or not doing something.

    • Yeah, like more social events for the homeschoolers.

      A full calendar is not a sign of spiritual growth. It's often a sign of insecurity more than anything else.

      Busyness just means you're keeping kids busy, not that they're necessarily growing.

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