Last week, I bet you were watching the same thing I was: the Super Bowl. For about four hours, we saw quarterbacks fighting to complete passes, defensive lines pressing against offensive lines and receivers dodging defenders to get open for a split second. When the right combination of preparation, strategy and passion came together, touchdowns were made.
Now imagine that, after the ball was hiked, the quarterback just sat down in the turf. Or suppose the running back received a handoff only to crouch and hide behind the line. What if the kicker crossed his arms and refused to kick a field goal until the other players agreed to settle down? Now that’s a winning strategy: Wait for the turmoil to end so you can stroll down the field unopposed after the dust settles. That’s crazy, right? Not going to happen! Yet that’s what I see so many youth workers trying to do.
These leaders start out in ministry with elaborate plans, pie-in-the-sky dreams and a fire in their guts for innovation. Then, when one too many initiatives doesn’t work out, they stop pushing forward. They get caught in the mess of their church and become hypnotized by the politics and clashing personalities. So they plant their feet and decide to wait until the distractions end to move forward. Maybe the volunteers are unhappy, or the senior pastor just left, or the elders are fighting, or one family in the church is raising a stink about who knows what. Youth workers often move forward only when they think the dust is about to settle. But these distractions rarely go away.
Don’t let the mess become a crutch. Don’t let the typical stresses of ministry be an excuse to sit on your hands. The dust from these issues isn’t going to settle until Jesus returns, so fight through the distractions and start dreaming for your ministry. Imagine yourself as an offensive coordinator planning a strategy to move your ministry forward in the midst of the mess. Ask yourself—and be honest—why you’ve stopped moving forward. Is it because the mess is too great, or is it because you’ve lost the will to fight. Messes can be navigated, but if your pilot light has gone out, you won’t have the energy to get your ministry moving again.
Consider this a kick in the pants. Ask God to reignite that pilot light. Halftime is over, and it’s time to pick up the ball and start fighting again. You may not win every battle, but you’ll win more than you would waiting for “perfect” timing. So push past the mess. Your students are worth it.