One night back in youth group, my high school friends and I were getting bored. As I let out a yawn, one of the other guys turned to me with a mischievous grin. He sprinted over to the baptismal and jumped in. Two more guys followed. Soon our whole small group was splashing around in an impromptu water war that probably wouldn’t have met the approval of our pastor. Maybe our small group leader felt guilty for not planning enough to do that night, or maybe the kid in him was just as rebellious as we were, but eventually he joined us in the water. It wasn’t until 11:30 that we realized this probably wasn’t the best idea.
You may not let your students splash around in the baptismal, but chances are, you’ve picked up a few bad habits as a youth worker. Maybe you only talk with the three or four students you know best. Maybe you forget to keep records of your ministry spending. Or maybe you wait until the last minute to prepare your lessons and end up giving the same talk or using the same illustrations over and over. All of these bad habits are preventable but damaging.
Our baptismal pool party can be traced back to two bad habits our small group leader never dealt with. First, he didn’t manage his time well. He left a gap in the activities, and when you’re dealing with high school boys, those blank spaces tend to get filled with bad ideas. Second, he didn’t know how to say no. Most students are experts at getting what they want, and if you’ve made a habit of caving in, they’ll wrap you around their little finger.
What bad habits are hurting your ministry? Are you unsure of how to get rid of them and move forward? The following may help.
1. Check your heart.
Selfishness is the root of many bad habits. God is at work in all of us to move our hearts from selfish to selfless. This is his great work in our lives. Acknowledge this work and open yourself up to others speaking into your heart. Start with prayer and ask the Spirit to tinker in your heart. Ask a mature Christ-follower to meet with you weekly to talk over living a selfless life. Share your struggles and allow them to give you advice.
2. Check your mind.
What labels have you given yourself because of accomplishments or abilities? Does some natural talent put you on a pedestal? Remind yourself that God has given you these gifts to bring glory to him. Bad habits sometimes come from misplaced perspectives. You are a servant; don’t forget it.
3. Check your hands and feet.
Make sure you are doing everything you are asking your followers to do. King David decided not to go to battle one year, and look what happened to him. Are you keeping your hands and feet busy doing God’s work, or have you become lazy? Keep your focus. When we forget to do the right things, the wrong things replace them.