I recently sat down with a youth pastor who has been in the game for almost a decade but recently found himself in a tough spot in a declining ministry. He began to explain how for years things seemed to be going well and the ministry was where he thought it should be so he just went on doing ‘his thing,’ but recently ‘his thing’ wasn’t working. The youth pastor went on to tell me that is why he reached out to me, to see if he could get any advice or help for pointing his ministry back in the right direction. Of course, I was glad to help in any way I could so I began asking a few questions.
I started by asking him where he learns, what other youth pastors he networks with, what type of trainings he does or has done, etc. He replied, by telling me that’s what he was trying to tell me. He hadn’t done any of that since he didn’t need it, what he was doing was working, so he just put his head down and did it without paying any attention to anything else out there. I was a little astonished to hear this but I think it brings up a valuable lesson for all of us. Obviously, if you are reading this you are not to as shut off to what is going on in student ministry training as this guy was, but it is still a valuable lesson to remember.
First, let me address the underlying question behind this mind set.
When is ‘good enough’ in regards to the gospel ministry? And, why do we get to decide that?
Just because we set a number in our head or some other bench mark and we achieve it does not mean we then coast and settle for where the ministry is. Can you imagine if Paul just decided after planting a church or two successfully he would just call it good enough? We should always be trying to push forward and be better than we were the day before. We need to remember we are not doing these ministries for ourselves, for our students or for our church, we are doing ministry for The Lord.
If you are hitting your bench marks, that is awesome! But if your bench mark was 30 students and you’re there, celebrate and then change your bench mark and realize you are half way to 60. Or if your bench mark is 70 percent of students in small groups, or reading their Bibles, or memorizing scripture, when you hit it celebrate, and then realize you are only 10 percent away from 80 percent. Do you see what I mean? Hitting bench marks is great but that still does not give us permission to decide when our ministries are ‘good enough.’
We should always be seeking to be better, and one of the major ways we can prevent ourselves from getting better is by burying our heads in the sand and not using the avenues around us to help us improve. Here are a few ways you can ensure you are not burying your head…
1. We need to keep learning and seeking to learn
Leaders are learners, and while we can learn from anything one of the ways we can ensure we are not burying our heads in the sand is to seek out learning opportunities. Again, you are already reading this blog so you understand the importance, but blogs, books, websites, trainings and conferences are always a good tool to sharpen our skills and remind us of the truths we already know.
2. We need to be around other youth workers
Networking is so important for so many reasons. But in this case it is a great way to ensure we are not shutting ourselves out and limiting our ministries to our own perspectives and strategies. When we surround ourselves with other youth workers we are able to learn from them and glean insight into another way of doing things.
3. We need to humble ourselves
Let’s be honest, sometimes our ministries are great and we do have the best ideas. Sometimes what we are doing is better than the blogs, books or conference speakers’ talk, but the moment we think we have arrived is the moment we arrive at a very dangerous spot. It is a very prideful place to be when we think we do not need anything or anyone and we would rather just put our head down and do our thing. Allow humility to be your posture and you will be on the path to not burying your head in the sand.
This article originally appeared here.