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Generation to Generation: Whose Time Is It, Anyway?

Each week we’ll be writing about different ways that we, as leaders, can effectively be examples to our students, and we’ll discuss different topics to talk over with our students. These topics range from relationships to being active in a small group. All of these topics are nuggets every leader can apply to his or her life. It’s our hope that you’ll check back to see what next week’s topic is, and that you can apply what we’ve learned in your own life as a fellow volunteer youth worker.

“Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will thank you forever and ever, praising your greatness from generation to generation.” Psalm 79:13

Whose time is it, anyway?

Some of our frustrations in ministry are because we want to do things on our timeline, not God’s.

Steven: I have a bittersweet quality when it comes to youth ministry: I’m a fixer. While it might sound really great that I want to fix students’ problems and issues, it can also get me into a lot of trouble. I do think God wired me to want to help people and care about them and want them to be better, but the other side of it is that I get frustrated when I can’t fix them.

This week my junior high small group co-leader and I were planning on wrapping up a 3-week series on “pains and struggles.” This week we were talking about how people are designed to want to help each other, so we should be seeking to help people around us recover from their pains and struggles. As we were leading the lesson, our 13 seventh grade boys decided to go into “rowdy mode.” No matter what we did, we couldn’t get more than two minutes into discussion without them going off on a tangent and then we would have to reel them back in. The part that frustrated me most was that the boys causing most of the disruption were guys that have the most struggles in their lives. Normally we would spend some extra time during the week with these guys ministering to them and loving on them, but we’ve run into a common issue: lack of time.

My co-leader and I are both college students. I just transferred to a Christian university that I commute to everyday, and the workload is more than I’m used to. All in all, I have a lot less time than I did a month ago. The downside to this is that I don’t feel like I have enough time to minister to my students that need more attention, which then leads to a less-focused small group time. The irony in it all is that one of the things we tried to teach the guys this week was to remember God’s timeline; when we’re trying to help people, it’s usually not going to happen overnight, it’s a process that takes some time. After I left group that night, I was frustrated with the lack of focus in our group, but I had to force myself to remember that God’s timing is WAY better than mine is. I made it a point to spend some time in prayer that night and connect with God to give Him more control over our group, rather than try to take care of it all myself.

Matt: I use to hear people talk about spiritual warfare and think to myself that was something they made up to explain away mistakes they had made that were now coming back to them.  I now feel very differently about that term.  I have felt it myself now, and it’s very real.  It seems the closer I get to God, the closer my students would get to God, I would have something happen in my life that would affect me in a negative way.  I have been dealing with an on-going health problem that I know is Satan pulling me back.  I have even thought to myself, why is God letting this happen?  I’ve been doing all the right things, doing all the good works, why is this happening, why are my prayers not being answered?  It really is a simple answer.  Satan hates when we grow closer and closer to God.  He hates seeing the positive change we bring to students lives when we let God work through us.

I have recently come to realize that my prayers are NOT going unanswered.  I’m just judging them on MY timetable, not God’s.  I remember the phrase, “The Teacher is always silent during a test.”  That describes what I’m going through!  I know that God is stretching and growing me right now in ways that I don’t understand, but one day it will be very obvious.  How do I battle spiritual warfare?  Simple answer, I tell my friends know what I’m going through and ask for their prayers.  I dive really deep in my quiet time now.  I read the Bible, pray and then sit back and LISTEN to what God is telling me.  I know this season won’t last forever, even though it seems like it will.

This is my frustration right now in my ministry that I’m dealing with.  I  know I’m not alone, I have people who care, truly care about me praying and loving on me right now.  My health problem seems so small now that I look at it in that pretense.  When i come out on the other end of this season, I know I’m going to be stronger, more faithful and a better teacher, mentor, brother, friend and small group leader than I was before.  I know I’m going to be passing down my spiritual gifts to the next generation.

How do your frustrations affect your ministry, and how do you handle them?

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dennisbeckner@churchleaders.com'
Dennis Beckner has served in youth ministry leadership for Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA since 1999. Dennis is a contributor and speaker to youth training events, writing projects and other engagements. Contact him at his blog, VolunteerYouthMinistry.com.