Time Out: Weekly quiet times for the youth worker’s soul.
(by Adam Wormann)
In youth ministry, we often seem to have this superhero mentality. It’s not a shot, it’s just that we try to do everything. Most often it’s out of a spirit of helpfulness. We try to cover the things that we do, and then step in wherever else may be helpful. Sure there’s the stereotype that youth pastors just play dodgeball, but in my experience, the amount of youth pastors that are legitimately overworked drastically outnumbers the ones that sit around and do nothing. We try to cover as much as we can, and be as helpful to the life of the church as possible. But yes, we still play a lot of dodgeball too.
We need to realize that other people can do things too. Probably better than us most times. I don’t care if you’re paid, volunteer, lead or not. We have to learn limits. We typically haven’t done that too well.
In Exodus 18, Moses gets a visit from his father-in-law. Yeah, that sounds like bad news right away. But it wasn’t.
“When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? What do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening? Moses answered him, ‘Because the people come to me and seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.’ Moses father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain – and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.'” (Ex 18:14-27)
Even Moses couldn’t do it all himself. If we’re trying to do everything ourselves, we are ultimately failing. Let someone else do some things. It doesn’t matter if they can’t do it 100% as well as you can. If they can do it 70% as well, maybe even less, give it up. You’ll be much more effective in the long run. Give some responsibility to students. It’s good for them. There’s no way we can do everything, nor should we try.
But this isn’t simply a “how to” for youth ministry. You can find that elsewhere around here. This is about us and God. The practical nature is, how much are we doing. The deeper issue is “how am I looking at myself?” Do I really think that highly of myself, that I have to do everything? Am I more concerned about it just being easier to do it myself, so I do? The former question is really the big one. We’re not the savior. Like we talked about last week, we’re but jars of clay. Yes, we’re all important to God. Realistically, we’re not so important that we need to do everything. That’s just control. Feel free to let go a little. It’s good for you and others.
Adam Wormann is Pastor of Next Generation Ministries at Sayre Woods Bible Church in Old Bridge, NJ where he’s been serving for the past 8 years. He is also one of the mentors at Life in Student Ministry and the editor of the “Time Out” series. You can stalk him on Twitter and Facebook, or read his blog if you’re really bored.
Posted on March 28, 2011