Tag Archives: Deadly

doing it all (7 deadly sins of youth ministry)

I’ve got something to prove. In the world of church-work, I’m new at this and I need to make a splash. I need to be noticed. Therefore, the more I do, the more I can produce; and the more I produce, the better I will seem to those around me.

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There’s a lot wrong with the opening paragraph. I hope that’s painfully obvious.

Unfortunately, this is an often unspoken reality in the lives of youth workers. We are often seen at the bottom of the totem pole of church hierarchy, “serving our time” as youth pastors before we can graduate to a more glamorous, higher paying senior pastor position (check out this blog post by Amy Jacober on this very topic!). Even if you’re not in youth ministry as a stepping stone (and I pray most youth pastors today are not), this mentality brings with it the often subconscious thought that we have to prove ourselves worthy of our calling.

I’ve been guilty of this, and I’ve seen people guilty of this. So what do we do?

I think we have to come to the realization that we’re not Jesus. I think we need to understand that being good at a lot of things keeps us from being great at a few things. Less than ten lines into the first chapter of The Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley spells out what he calls the “two best-kept secrets of leadership,” which are:

1. The less you do, the more you accomplish.

2. The less you do, the more you enable others to accomplish.

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If we try to do it all, our underlying goal is to please people instead of God. In trying to do it all, we take on roles that don’t necessarily maximize our gifts and calling when we could be delegating to others and thereby helping them fully live out their own calling. Not only have we hindered ourself, we’ve hindered others.

If we acknowledge that we’re not Jesus, release control, and involve others in the mission of seeing youth experience the life-transforming power of God, we accomplish more.

Live out your calling, accomplish great things, and don’t do it all.

over sacrificing (7 deadly sins of youth ministry)

7 deadly sins title“I’m looking out for number one!”

Talk about a selfish, un-Christlike phrase!  Aren’t we supposed to be self-sacrificing followers of Christ?  Aren’t we supposed to give of ourselves for the sole purpose of others knowing Christ?  Paul calls us to do this very thing, which has been the banner cry for Christians worldwide: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4, NASB).  We’re called to be servant leaders, right?  Emptying of ourselves in order to fill others.

Um… kind of.

The other day, I was reading a book by Brian Berry, in which he talks about this very concept.  He directs the readers’ thoughts to a flight attendant’s preflight safety instructions.  If you’ve ever flown on a commercial aircraft, you’ll know this well:

In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will automatically drop from the ceiling.  To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you.  Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally.  Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask.  If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.  Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.

Helping myself before helping my screaming child?  This goes against parental instinct.  So why do they tell us to do so each time we fly?  Because if I save my life first, it will increase the likelihood of me being able to save my child’s life.

Jesus talks about this same concept, a long time before air travel was even possible:

The foremost [commandment] is, “Hear, O Israel! The Lod our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”  The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  There is no other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:29-31, NASB).

Love others as yourself.  Jesus didn’t say, love others like God loves you or love like you’d want to be loved.  Jesus tells us to put on our oxygen mask first before putting on other’s masks for them.  He invites us to love ourselves so we can love others effectively.

7 deadly sins content 2Jesus even modeled this to us when we went off early in the morning to spend time with God, and he passed up opportunities to love others to take care of himself (Mark 1:35; Luke 4:42).  And by taking care of himself and his relationship with his Father, he was able to take care of others.

Let’s be Christlike this year and take care of and love ourselves so we can more effectively take care of and love others.  Because the best gift you can give someone is a healthy you.  The best way you can love another is to love you.

[to read more about this idea and others that might save your life in youth ministry, check out As for Me and My Crazy House, by Brian Berry]