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Leadership
Rick Lawrence

Rick (rlawrence@group.com and @RickSkip on Twitter) has been editor of GROUP Magazine for 26 years. He’s author of the just-released book Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry (simplyyouthministry.com). He wrote the books Sifted (www.siftedbook.com) and Shrewd (www.shrewdbook.com) and the upcoming Skin In the Game (2015) as an excuse to immerse himself in the presence of Jesus.

I’ve made a list of resolutions for the youth ministry nation—the New Year is three months in the rear view mirror, and our ideal resolves never “work” anyway, so why bother?

Well, the real power in our resolutions has more to do with the process that produces them than our dogged ability to deliver on them. I mean, our resolutions reveal what matters most to us in our life. And they reveal the dissonant “liminal space” between our deepest desires and our brutal reality. Most often, we plant our resolutions in the thin, rocky soil of our own weakened determination. And our repeated failures to follow-through make us cynical. But what if, instead, we give the resolutions that generate “heart traction” in us some good soil to grow in, then cultivate those seeds over time? Maybe our trusting nurture of our seed-resolutions, rather than our will-based efforts to make them happen, will result in the slow revelation of fruit in our life. And in that spirit, which of these “seeds” is yours to plant?

#1–I resolve to bite the bullet and spend at least two hours a week connecting with students at school–the place where they spend most of their waking hours and ground zero for their intellectual, emotional, and social growth.

#2–I resolve to, over the next year, find at least one new way to get teenagers talking with their parents about faith issues and an everyday life that’s centered around Jesus. The two most powerful predictors of a healthy faith life, according to Search Institute’s “asset” research, are “talking about faith with your mother” and “talking about faith with your father.”

#3–I resolve to spend five minutes every day praying for the kids who chronically irritate, frustrate, or exacerbate me. This will be my “mustard seed” expression for living in the Spirit of Jesus, who “loved his enemies” and “prayed for those who persecuted him.” I will pray that these kids change the world through the transforming influence of Jesus.

#4–I resolve to give the gift of my serious, intrusive presence to three kids in my group this year. I will spend the time and energy it takes to really see and understand them—to help them find their “true name,” the way Jesus revealed Simon’s true name. I will find at least one big way to spot and encourage a Christlike quality in each of them.

#5–I resolve to find a “beeline to Jesus” every time we crack open the Bible—that means that no matter what the topic, or the passage, we follow C.H. Spurgeon’s passionate life philosophy and embrace the truth that “all roads lead to Jesus” in Scripture. (For a step-by-step way to implement this practice in your ministry, pick up a copy of my just-released book Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry here.)

#6–I resolve to make my “teaching time” more interactive than it is today—to find ways to make sure I’m talking only half the time, so my students can talk (in pairs, trios, or all together) half the time.

#7—I resolve to “should” my students less, replacing my tips-and-techniques with redemptive stories and parables instead (from my own life, using film clips, from scripture, or from the life experiences of others).

#8–I resolve to ask my students about their favorite sites on the Web, then spend at least one hour a month familiarizing myself with their online world, looking for their common-thread issues, obsessions, and concerns.

#9–I resolve to schedule one uninterrupted afternoon a month to hide out in a comfortable location and wait on Jesus–through silence, conversation, reading, prayer, or Bible study. No matter what I do during this time, I resolve to ask Jesus these questions: “What do I need to know about myself right now?” and “What do I need to know about You right now?”

To borrow a phrase from Messrs Lennon and McCartney: “You say you got a real solution? Well, you know, we’d all love to see the plan.”

Rick / @RickSkip

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