My pastor, Rick Warren, always says, “You don’t learn from people’s strengths, you learn from their weaknesses.” If that’s true, then I have a wealth of knowledge! But seriously, I’ve been doing youth ministry for a while now, and throughout my years in ministry, I’ve tried to be intentional about learning from my mistakes. I believe we all grow the most when we take the time to reflect on our own mistakes and the mistakes of others. So I thought I’d reflect on a few of mine with you, and we can learn together. Here are a few of the many mistakes I’ve made doing youth ministry:
- Hosting a volunteer meeting without food/snacks: Food and drinks of some sort at a meeting may not seem important, but it is important because of what it communicates. It communicates that you value their time and you understand they are giving up something by attending. I’m not saying you have to break the bank, but making sure their stomachs aren’t growling louder than you is a smart investment.
- Making assumptions on half the truth: I’ve learned to never just assume a student is telling you everything. I must remember, having half of the story means I only have half of the truth.
- Planning an event without thinking it through: I’ve learned the easiest way to waste time and money is to plan an event without thinking it through strategically.
- Caught in the trap of doing more: I’ve learned that doing more doesn’t mean better, it just means you’re doing more. Choose quality over quantity, and watch how healthy things grow over time.
- Squashing my productivity: My productivity declines when I don’t have a strategy. I’ve learned that as a youth worker my productivity is something I must strategically build and manage. One of the simple ways to manage it is to build a volunteer team and delegate. Ask yourself, “Is there a simpler way of doing this?”
- Ministering in my own strength: I have learned that when I’m not depending on God in ministry, my ministry will be shallow and short-lived. The weight of ministry is too heavy for any of us to carry alone. John 15:5 and 2 Corinthians 12:9 are two verses that have become foundational for me.
- Mistaking success in ministry for spiritual growth – I’ve learned that success in ministry doesn’t negate my brokenness. I need to hear and do the things I’m preaching just as much as those who hear me. I need to be in God’s Word, reading and studying. Any success in ministry belongs to God.
I hope something I’ve shared in this post helps you. What mistakes have you made that we all can learn from?
Hope it helps,
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