As we continue with our series on things that students need to learn from watching our lives we come to another important topic: Stewardship and Generosity.
Lets face it, you didn’t go into youth ministry to get rich, and we know that serving in any capacity as a Pastor or Youth Worker is not the highest paying gig, but its still the best job in the world.
But just because the pay isn’t great, doesn’t mean there’s an excuse for us wasting the resources we do have. I have met enough youth pastors who seem to have the latest and greatest gadgets and clothing yet complain that they are living pay cheque to pay cheque. Guess what, your students are watching this pattern as well. Stewardship is defined as the responsible management of resources and in the Christian world how we use our time, talent and treasure.
Time: Youth ministry is a crazy world with late nights, evening meetings, weekend retreats, the hours are all over the place. I often tell students that when I was young I had more time to give than money and now as an adult I have more money than time. For my students I believe it is essential that they see me serving at events and functions that are not a part of my ministry area and invite them to be a part of it. Whether its kids ministry, service hosting or just stacking chairs, your students need to see you serving the Kingdom. The purpose is not to be a show, but to invite students into serving others with a heart to see the Kingdom advance. Be a cheerful giver of your time, it will rub off on your students.
Talent: You are gifted, after all, you got hired! So what are you doing with it? How are you using your gifts to serve the Church? Your community? Students expect your best when it comes to your job but do you put the same amount of effort into the areas of your life you are not being paid to do? I am so inspired when I see youth workers serving as coaches, mentors, music teachers, scout leaders and many other unpaid volunteer positions where they can use their passions and interests to serve others. Social media communicates all aspects of your life and what you value and find important will come through loud and clear.
Treasure: This is the big one because it effects so much of your ministry. The way you manage your personal finances will often be reflected in how you spend your youth ministry budget. Questionable or wasteful spending on your personal or ministry budget will not allow for there to be funds left over for a rainy day or an unexpected expense. The question I wish I could ask every pastor I meet is: Do you tithe? For many, giving is often the first thing to go when money gets tight and poor planning and budgetting can mean our last fruits are what we give God not our first. Youth workers, we need to shape up here and be responsible for that which has been entrusted to us. When we can manage out finances well we are able to be more generous and we are able to mentor students to live a life of generosity. Help students see generous living as empowering, that they can be a part of supporting the work God is doing by giving.
I will be the first to admit that having all of these in order is not a simple task and that many of the challenges each of us face in these areas comes from how these were modelled for us when we were growing up. The call is simply for us to be obedient to God, that we would be generous with our lives and our resources and that students would be challenged by the way we live and seeing us give the first fruits of all we have. It is not easy and I have made many mistakes, but God continues to show me areas where I can be more generous. I hope that our students can catch a vision of how empowering and addictive generosity can be.
Geoff – Twitter @geoffcstewart