I’m going to be honest and say I have not mastered what I’m about to share with you. I’m in the middle of this one-sided wrestling match with you.
The school year will soon begin. Youth groups across the country will soon be having or are planning kickoff events. Youth workers have spent most of the summer prepping for the new school year—lessons, trips, retreats, mission trips—and the kickoff is when most things launch.
It’s a stressful yet exciting time.
In all our planning, though, I wonder how many of us schedule personal time during the week. Not time to be with family, students, or friends, but time to get away by ourselves. It can either be a day off or a block of time during a particular day, but the time is spent being refreshed and recharged within an already hectic atmosphere of ministry.In thinking about kicking-off the new year, have we included ourselves into the mix? And if not, why?
Though our families may at times feel like second place, because ministry has overtaken us during the week or months, I’m willing to bet that our souls feel like dead last because it’s the most overlooked aspect of our lives. Why is this? And when I ask this, I’m asking myself first.
It’s like a one-sided wrestling match: myself vs. my soul.
Besides needing us there, our family, friends, and ministry need us even more to be spiritually refreshed and alive. Without a regular recharge, our souls become dry, our faith becomes lax, our connection to God becomes loose, causing our enthusiasm and work to stem from ourselves rather than Him.
Some of the top comments heard from youth workers who attend conferences and retreats for themselves: “I needed this,” “I feel refreshed and ready for the year,” “This is an mountaintop experience,” “I’ve spent much needed time alone with God.”
So why can’t we infuse these moments more regularly into our lives, instead of one week a year?
As I said, I haven’t mastered this. I am simply attempting to correct something in my life that is long overdue. Maybe you can benefit from these suggestions.
For the past three years now, between July and August, I’ve read, “The Pursuit of God.” No other book, besides the Bible, has reframed, realigned, and recharged my spiritual walk than this small book. If you know me, you know I’m a huge fan of A.W. Tozer. As you read his words and insights, you know this is a man who has spent significant time with God —weekly, if not daily. What I have found, though, is that rereading the book each year helps me frame out the year; not with programs, rather with areas I need to personally work on. Pride. Quiet time. Surrender. Loving others. Contentment.
Do you have a book that you could read over and again, that pours into you a passion to change? When was the last time you read it? Could you learn something new from it if you read it again?
For me, the best books are the ones you are able to read over and again, and each time learn something new. Each time I read “The Pursuit of God,” I use a different method of marking things (different colors, pens, symbols) which allows me to keep track of what I’m learning but also when I’m learning things. Sometimes I re-highlight something, which helps me to know that this is something really important I need to grasp and apply.
Another thing I’m trying this year is scheduling a block of time for myself to spend with God. For me, I’m not one who has a consistent “quiet time” every morning. Instead, I work better in large blocks of time. The time frame that works best is Monday afternoons from about 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. It’s a big block of time, but it’s time that I need. During this time, I journal, read the Bible, listen to worship songs, pray, whatever I am hungry for and needing. I’m also about to start two books on leadership from a spiritual formation framework: “The Unhurried Life” and “Spiritual Leadership.”
While a quiet place outside is nice at times, more often than not, I have a favorite side table in the local coffee shop that provides me a place of solace, too.
Are you able to carve out time within a particular day? Are you willing to take the time and to keep the time from being dismissed or overlooked? Don’t set it up where you feel obligated to “do” something, rather it’s a time for you to “be” with God—however you need.
Just as I’m intentional about helping students and others form their lives around Jesus, so I need to be about my life, too. Not only is it time to kick off the new school year and ministry, but it’s also high-time for a personal kickoff for my soul. How about you?
Need more resources just for your own growth/development? Check out what Group Youth Ministry has to offer.