Credible art museums are defined by what isn’t on the walls as much as by what is. What if your credibility in life and ministry can be curated in a similar way?
Time-management experts bark that the key to life is scheduling everything in advance and saying no to whatever doesn’t fit. I don’t know about you, but that strategy hasn’t really worked well for me.
The other side of the coin is just as confusing. Sorry, but I’m just not going to live like Bob Goff does. As much fun as daily spontaneity might be, I’ve made ongoing commitments to my family, ministry, and more.
What a strange tension: [tweet_dis]You lose as much credibility saying no all the time as you do saying yes all the time.[/tweet_dis]
Jesus taught with authority and performed many miracles, but have you ever considered everything he didn’t do? As Greg McKeown observes: “Jesus healed and shared the Gospel with a remarkable amount of people when he walked the Earth. But he didn’t heal and preach to everyone. He used his limited time to focus on what mattered most.”
That’s why I appreciate the example of a curator.
Curators are caretakers
Museums are filled with priceless art, and curators are fortunate to be the first to appreciate it. Not all of them do, though. Some end up just managing stuff. Likewise, a youth ministry is filled with priceless students, and you have personal, up-close access to them. You can manage kids and note what needs to be mended, or you can be the first one truly captivated by the masterpiece they are. That’s a difference kids will notice. After all, they can tell if you’re merely doing your job or are fully present. The saying holds true: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
- Credibility shift: “I’ll say yes to opportunities that help me see students as Jesus does, but I’ll say no to opportunities that make me less personally engaged.”
Curators are content specialists
You bring something unique into every student’s life, but you’re not the only one who does that. Just as a typical museum has multiple curators who each focus on a particular genre, teenagers have multiple people in their lives who offer unique perspectives. Even if you feel strongly about something, pray about whether it’s your arena or if you should do a hand-off. For example, instead of trying to be an amateur psychologist, you might build a networking relationship with an actual counselor. Or instead of teaching every week, you can inquire about other people’s areas of expertise and invite them to teach. Rather than being a know-it-all, figure out what parents, teachers, coaches, and other church leaders know so you can capitalize on—and honor—their valuable insights.
- Credibility shift: “I’ll say yes when I’m the obvious choice to teach or lead something, but I’ll say no when someone else can do it better or ‘fresher.’”
Curators are storytellers
To draw people into a simple story, art curators sift through their own pieces and what’s been loaned to them. Ultimately, that involves deciding which pieces should be displayed and which should stay in storage. Likewise, God’s story is told best not when we bust out everything we know but when we involve the entire body of Christ to clarify a simple invitation to Jesus. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t wrestle with larger topics; instead, we should focus on maximizing what matters most while minimizing what doesn’t. Just because we can spend several weeks in a row focusing on a controversial subject or making games extra-sarcastic doesn’t mean we should—especially if that distracts from God’s story.
- Credibility shift: “I’ll say yes when we spotlight Jesus, but I’ll say no when we spotlight ourselves at his expense.”
Curators are the middle man
Curators connect the artist with the audience. They discover as much as they can about the creator and the crowd to build the best bridge possible between them. We do this for our church and among parents by communicating what’s happening in the context of our ministry, be it the deeper soul stuff or day-to-day information. Through healthy pathways of engagement, we’re always advocating for both sides.
- Credibility shift: “I’ll say yes when multiple generations can overlap or interact, but I’ll say no when multiple generations end up out of sight and out of mind.”
Curators are professionals
Museum employees are expected to honor their collections. That entails discussing the works with other specialists, trying to find what’s missing, and using the right words in the right way.
In a youth ministry context, that means we’re more like “adults who love students” than “big kids who act like students.” Use real words in text messages. Be the first to show up and the last to leave. If ministry is a matter of using your limited time to break through and promote growth in areas that matter most, work within your current infrastructure rather than rebel against it.
- Credibility shift: “I’ll say yes when it honors others as they should be honored, but I’ll say no when I feel as if I’m dialing it in.”
[tweet_dis]Only by being fully present can you offer your very best.[/tweet_dis]
Amid real-world deadlines and expectations, how do you gain credibility?