Most of us have felt a deep sense that God called us into ministry. Part of who we are as youth workers means that we love people. Specifically, we love our students and their families. It isn’t always easy, but we know that loving them is part of our calling.
But what about the church staff? Due to the nature of working with flawed humans, including ourselves, we sometimes forget to love those we work with…and those work for. (If my pastor is reading this now…this has never happened to me. This is totally hypothetical.)
In John 13:35, Jesus tells his follower that our love will prove to the world that we are his disciples. Our love–not just for the lost and the broken, but for each other. In 1 John, there is a really big emphasis on our ability to love God tied to loving our brothers.
The reality is that there is and will be conflict in ministry. You will not always see eye-to-eye with your co-workers…or worse with your boss. This will happen. And if we are not careful, things can happen to our hearts…bad things.
What happens in our heart leads us to a place where it is easier to love the hurting students in our ministries while struggling with feelings of frustration with our own peers. “These people” are not easy to love.
Our love for each other will prove to those watching (our students) that we belong to Jesus.
Love is essential…even (and maybe especially) when it comes to our staff.
How do you choose love?
1. Go to the Source. God is love. It is the very basis of what we believe. If we need help loving…go to the Source. Go to the One who loves you…and the One who even loves that ornery co-worker. Ask him to fill you with his love in a way that overflows naturally to those that you are surrounded by each day.
2. Pray for them. Prayer changes our hearts. When we are in the midst of conflict, prayer can transform our hearts and allow us to genuinely love and care for a person. Prayer may not lead to instant resolution of the conflict but it can do amazing things to your heart. (Which in the end…resolves conflict.)
3. Build into your relationship. I find that those I work with are easier for me to love when my relationship with them isn’t solely based on work. We have conversations about our lives, our families…we build into our relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ. Set a lunch or coffee date…and don’t talk business, don’t push your next big thing, or run an idea by them…just connect. It is easy to forget that our co-workers and our bosses are humans…broken and hurting humans just like us. But when we take time to connect and care, we find that love begins to grow.
And at the end of the day, I believe that our love for our partners in ministry may be the key to loving our students.
Thanks for reading,