We eat, sleep and drink youth ministry.
Every once in a while I (Kurt) will have somebody say to me something like, “Youth ministry is my life…I don’t know what I’d do without it!” To which I want to reply something like, “Gosh…I am so sorry to hear that!”
It makes sense that so many of us feel like our entire lives revolve around our role as a youth worker. Think about it: We love what we do, we are convinced in its importance, teenagers are high maintenance, parents are high maintenance, and church elders are high maintenance! We are typically under a ton of pressure for numerical and spiritual growth in our ministry, and many of us are so insecure we have somehow managed to find much of our identity and sense of value in our roles as youth workers. If you recognize yourself in any of what I just wrote, don’t be too hard on yourself…you are in good company!
For these very reasons, it is vital that you determine to have some sort of a life outside the church! Not sure what we mean? Here are a few suggestions:
Make friends outside the Christian bubble
As much as we need, and love, the connections with fellow believers, be sure you aren’t living in a weird little Christian bubble. It’s shocking that despite all the “missional youth ministry” language that is so popular, so few youth workers truly live a missional life. The reality is the longer you are a follower of Jesus, the fewer and fewer non-believing friends you tend to have, and the less and less time you tend to spend with them. Your circle, instead of increasing and becoming more inclusive, has a natural tendency to decrease and become less inclusive.
Enjoy your hobby
Spend some time enjoying what you enjoy. In the hectic pace of ministry you can lose sight of just “checking out” and having fun. For me (Josh) it is all about Call of Duty or trying not to accidentally crash my Air Hog into the community pool. For me (Kurt) it is all about dirt bikes or reading a good book. Find something you enjoy and do it. We encourage every youth worker to take their day off seriously — don’t sit at home working on that talk that needs finishing. Relax, refresh and re-energize by doing the things you love to do!
Take some extended time off
Building a life outside the church isn’t an easy task — especially if you are in a pretty deep rut. We’ve learned that a single day here and there usually won’t break the habits so many of us find ourselves in. If you have the freedom to do so, consider taking some extended time away from the church. Take back-to-back vacation weeks, escape for a 48 hour silent retreat, Call an old friend from high school and schedule a fishing trip or scrap-booking weekend (that one was Josh’s idea).
Do you eat sleep and drink youth ministry, too? Take a break today!
This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.