Recently I feel like my life is out of control. In the words of Mute Math, “Everything around’s breaking down to chaos.” I struggle to keep up with relationships, friendships, laundry, responding to the never-ending e-mails, myspace & facebook messages, deadlines, and sleep. Not to mention the excessive list of shows on my TiVo I need to watch.
This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way. Several times in my life I’ve just straight up been off my game. Like when I was a senior in high school. I played basketball, had a new girlfriend, and airballed two free throws in a game. Yes, that’s right, I shot two air balls in a row from the free throw line in front of my new girlfriend and several hundred other people. Talk about being off your game!
Honestly, this is how ministry feels for me sometimes, well most of the time . . . chaotic . . . like I’m still 17 trying to shoot free throws and can’t quite make it.
Maybe that’s how ministry feels for you too. I think if we were all completely honest, chaos would be the word that would define our continuous state of being in youth ministry. Too many phone calls to answer, e-mails to send, events to plan, students to spend time with, parents to meet with, volunteers to recruit, pastors and elders to answer to, family to love, messages to write—and the list goes on.
So how do we deal? Well, obviously I’m no expert, but here’s some steps I’m learning to take as I try to bring some calm to my chaos:
ADMIT WE DON’T HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER. I recently saw a movie called “Dan In Real Life,” starring one of my favorite actors, Steve Carell. It seems to fit exactly where I am right now. The synopsis goes like this: “Advice columnist Dan Burns is an expert on relationships but somehow struggles to succeed as a brother, a son, and a single parent.” Interesting. A guy who dispenses advice for a living but can’t keep it together in real life.
It seems when life gets out of control for us, much like Dan, we feel the need to cover up that reality, look like we’ve got it all together, and try our hardest to actually get it all together. I know it sounds ridiculous, but that’s what we do. I call it the “hypocritic oath.” Maybe it’s time to embrace the chaos, admit we don’t always have control, and just be (insert your name here) ____________ in real life.
ENLIST HELP. I’ve never really been good at this. I’ve always thought I could handle everything on my own. I’m pretty sure it’s my insecurity and need for control. I have learned though that I really can’t do it alone. In life I need trusted friends to share my struggles with, experienced mentors to give me wisdom, loving accountability to kick my butt a little, and an understanding God to give me clarity and direction.
In ministry, I need a passionate team to serve with and a committed group that is willing to pick up fallen pieces that I can’t and probably shouldn’t juggle. (And by the way, who, quite frankly, can handle these pieces better than I can.)
I’m pretty sure you need all this too.
Unfortunately, chaos never really goes away, and I’m not sure we can ever really get control. It’s kind of how life works. But I am convinced we can have some calm in the chaos if we take the right steps.