Youth ministry is relational, it’s personal and it can be very emotional. As a leader you should care about what it is you do; however, don’t let emotions stand in the way of what needs to happen. I remember receiving a phone call from a mom who was concerned about her son. Her tone came off accusatory and very abrasive. Being young, stubborn and agitated I became argumentative. In the end I told her that there was nothing wrong with our programs, that she was failing as a parent and that I knew a whole lot more than she ever would about raising a teenager.
I remember hanging up the phone, upset, angry and then came the guilt. I had let emotions stand in the way of an opportunity to help a parent. Not only did I miss that opportunity; but, I created a reputation that told others, “Do not call this guy when you have a problem. He’ll put it on you.”
As a youth minister you need to know when to put the emotions away. That means:
Knowing What’s Best For The Vision: There will be times when you need to kill a program because it is no longer good for the vision. When this time comes you will face a lot of emotions from parents, teens, volunteers and even yourself. While you don’t want to be ruthless, you need to be:
- Clear with your reasoning.
- Careful with your timetable.
- Considerate of other’s emotions.
When you focus on the vision you might have to make tough decisions; however, your commitment to the church’s vision will be rewarded.
Being On Guard Against Triggers: Chances are there is something that will set you off. It might be a tone of a person’s voice. It could be the sensitivity you have over a certain issue. No matter what name, list and inform others of those triggers so that you can gain some accountability.
Understanding The Truth About Numbers: Numbers are emotional because of how tie importance around them. They are wonderful measurement tools; however, they will not define your ministry alone. Learn how to use your data to help you and start identifying other signs of success.
Listening To The Story Beneath The Story: Again youth ministry is personal and it gets emotional. A parent might come to you worried about their child. At first they unload on you instead of working with you. During these times it’s important to remind yourself, “It’s not about you.” When you start peeling back the layers and looking at the program objectively you are more likely to help the people you are serving.
To lead effectively you need to know when to be passionate and when to lead objectively. You won’t always get it right and that’s why it’s important to have an accountability team, patience and humility. Spend time with the Lord to give you the pacing you need to handle the emotions that come with loving teens, their families and your ministers.
How do you separate emotions from ministry? Should you?
Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)