The old saying goes: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. My mom always used to say that the grass is green over there because there was a septic tank underneath it.
But fewer words could be truer in Youth Ministry and church life for that matter. The grass always seems to be greener in someone else’s church. The advent of Facebook™ and Twitter™ you get to read about another youth worker’s work and how many students stood and received Christ for the first time, and how many dollars the group donated to a charity. It can feel like a non-stop highlight reel of comparison and discouragement compared to the situation you may be facing at the moment.
So I’m not surprised when people make comments about how great it would be to have my job, or to run a ministry like this. Truth be told, it’s a ministry just like yours, full of students who are hurting and broken and who make poor decisions regularly. When I spend time with students, it is often dealing with tough issues just like you. I usually Tweet about and post about the good, but truth be told, its tough, and the grass is not as green as you think. The same goes for the big youth group across town from you that has awesome music, great media and kids getting saved and baptized weekly. That is not the whole story.
Here is the honest truth; God has brought you to your church and your ministry for this moment. Don’t worry about what’s next or let your mind wander every day searching for. When your eyes and heart are on what others have, and what is happening down the road, you lose because you get discouraged, your students lose because you are distracted and say why bother and God loses because the person entrusted to lead Hid children is disheartened.
Here are two things to focus on:
Bloom where you’re planted
Just because you know that a ministry 3000 miles from you has great media, does not mean your students do. If you were to poll your students you will find that the thing that keeps them coming back is not an expensive youth room, free pizza, Xbox® Kinect™ or lasers – its relationships. Your students love coming to your group because they are known there, they matter there, and people care for them there, people pray for them there and people accept them there.
It may sometimes be a mess in your eyes, but you are called there, to share Jesus with your students, and it’s a blessing to be able to do that. Every church is messy. Accept the fact that pushy parents, apathetic teens and cranky facilities staff are a universal experience.
When you think about your group, think about the lives and stories that you have an opportunity to speak into and strive daily to show Jesus to each of them. We are blessed to work with a generation so hungry for significance and passionate about having a life that counts. They are just waiting for you to give them something / someone to live for.
Take a step forward today
Maybe you feel like you have nothing to add to the youth ministry landscape, when in fact you really do. There are thousands of youth pastors out there that are struggling, trying to figure out how to do ministry in a context just like yours. If you have been in youth ministry for more than two years, you have more to offer than you can imagine.
How can you share your experiences, good or bad so that other youth workers can benefit from it?
- Start a blog
- Write a guest post for someone else’s blog
- Submit a magazine article (easier than you think)
- Walk alongside a new Youth Worker in your area
- Speak at your local training event
These are simple ways for you to share the lessons that God has taught you through being in the trenches. People need to know the pitfalls; they need to know how to deal with tough situations like the ones that you experience all the time.
Make the grass under your feet green.