I just left yet another youth pastor. I was trying to be a friend to this youth leader who, in his words, is "getting his head kicked in." The issue? Criticism.
Scripture speaks much about the worth of endurance. It seems to celebrate the saints that were considered plodders. Even contemporary business success illustrates the point that there is no magic moment when you want to move from good to great...
There will be no magic moment if our heart is to make Hell hate us...
Everybody has a different barometer for what success is. Success to me is that I have raised up some leaders around me who look at life differently, who begin to have life lived through an eternal focus rather than just, "How much money do I make," or "How big the sign is on the front door of my office."
I often find myself asking the Lord to refocus my attention on the bottom line principles that make a youth ministry one that makes heaven celebrate. Interestingly enough, I found that in an article about the famed UCLA Bruins and their historic coach, John Wooden, its implications in youth ministry significance are quite profound.
You know you're a success in youth ministry when teenagers take you for granted and fail to appreciate all you do.
This might sound strange, but when you parallel your youth ministry to Christ's experience with His disciples, it makes sense. The 12 guys on His ministry team never sang, "How Great Thou Art," to Him. In fact, they often seemed unimpressed by the sacrifices Jesus made to minister among them.
You know you're a success when you've been in one place long enough to have "remember when" stories.
Persistence is the greatest revenge on hell. In our dysfunctional society, where complete family units are an endangered species, we can define successful youth ministry with three words: "Just be there." Sounds simple, but in a world of "rotating relationships" a long-haul ministry can't be overrated.
You know you're a success when you fight to remain a voice, not an echo.
There are many echoes in youth ministry...people who merely mimic the culture's values rather than fight to be a distinct voice for biblical values. I'm not talking about legalism or nitpicking about music styles or body piercing here. I'm talking about being a prophetic voice in the lives of our young people...a voice that has something to say about character, conscience, and conviction. It requires no energy or backbone to simply echo what kids want to hear.
Late one night my phone rang and before I could finish saying, "Hello," the voice on the other end frantically spoke.
"I'm so sorry to call you late. I don't know what to do. I love where I'm at. I just need to take care of my family, and this is such a great opportunity... hello?"
In Cadre emails, I'm frequently asked to share some of my tips on developing a great leadership team. I thought you might enjoy hearing a few too. While some of the points may not sound too "glamorous," please just know that they work if you have the guts and endurance to keep doing them.