Tag Archives: Sin

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.

doing it all alone (7 deadly sins of youth ministry)

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“I’ve got this!”

A dangerous phrase in ministry.  Of course we need to be confident in who we are and how God has gifted us, but when that leads to always taking and holding tightly to the reign of control, things can get a little rocky.

We like to be in control.  We like to know what’s going on and have our hand in the outcome in some way or every way.  We keep others at arms length and keep each task close at hand.  The intentions are good: to ensure everything runs smoothly.  But the outcome is often unpleasant: stress, broken relationship, or burnout.

This is a lesson I have learned time and time again.  I am an activator, I like to see things happen.  I can have obsessive tendencies when it comes to organization and ideas, and I want to do things right the first time.  Allowing others into a situation or task releases some of my control and hands them control that I may or may not have wanted to give up.  But I can’t do it all alone.  I need people: people to partner with, to delegate to, to bounce ideas off of.

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In Exodus 18, Jethro (Moses’ father-in-law), gave Moses this advice: “What you are doing is not good.  You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out.  The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.”  Moses was trying to do it alone.  He was trying to be the best leader he could be by retaining control in every situation.  But as Jethro pointed out, Moses could not handle it alone.

Saying, “I’ve got this!” is ignoring the biblical truth that God created each individual with unique gifts and talents.  Trying to do it all alone, whether in ministry, marriage, or any other context, can lead to strained relationships and ultimately personal failure because we are meant to be in community.  Yes, it often causes discomfort to let others share control with us, but it is the way God intended it.

Engage in discomfort with me and share control this week.  Be a true leader and let someone lead with you.