Youth Pastor Failures

young man

It’s not a topic we like to talk about: our disappointments, failures, and mistakes. As a youth pastor, we’re in the spotlight. We’re supposed to be a role model, to live a life above reproach, to be an example in everything we do.

Yet we’re also human.

We’re also sinners.

But how much space is there to be who we truly are, including our failures? [Read more…]

Conquering ourselves

Mountains

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re usually right.”

Henry Ford said those words and I have to agree with them. I am often my own worst enemy and my ‘inner dialogue’ is not helpful a lot of the times, as I struggle with low self esteem.

“It’s not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves.”

It’s why Sir Edmund Hillary’s quote rings so true to me. I don’t know if you recognize his name, but he was the first man to climb Mount Everest together with Tenzing Norgay and Hillary climbed many mountains after that. I have no intention of trying to climb Everest (though one never knows – I;ve certainly grown to love hiking the last year), but I think he’s right. No matter how hard the task before us, it’s not the task that we have to conquer, it’s ourselves.

If we keep telling ourselves we can’t do something, that we’re just not good enough, not holy enough, not old enough or wise enough or whatever enough…then we’ll never do it.

In what area do you have to conquer yourself?

Mountains

Your greatest path of influence with teens

love

As youth workers, we are striving to make an impact on the life of teens. Ultimately, out goal is to make them into devoted followers of Jesus. But how do we get them there?

Programs?

Bible studies?

Sermons?

Discipleship?

Small groups?

I think these all have their place. But sometimes we focus so much on these, that we forget our greatest path of influence with teens: love. Unconditional, selfless, Christ-like love. [Read more…]

Bullying brings status: an anti-bullying policy for youth ministry

bullying

Bullying is gaining more and more attention from researchers, school, parents, lawmakers and others and rightly so. In the last few years, there have been several heartbreaking stories of the effects of bullying and it’s a serious problem we need to address as youth leaders as well.

We can’t pretend bullying doesn’t happen in youth ministry. I should know, I left the teen ministry of my own church as a teen because I was bullied and the leaders did little or nothing to stop it. I still attended my ‘home church’, but I was involved in another church’s youth ministry (one that was way less radical in its message I might add!) because I was accepted there and felt safe.

We need to stop any and all bullying in our youth ministries. But what does an affective anti-bullying policy look like?

[Read more…]

The power of shame: I’m saying ‘me too’

shame

If you have never heard of Brene Brown, you’re missing out. Brene Brown is ‘Vulnerability TED’ as she says herself, a worldwide ‘celebrity’ after her famous TED talk on vulnerability I blogged about before. It’s a talk that has had a lot of impact on me as well, which was why I was very motivated to watch a new TED talk from Brene Brown, this time on shame.

Now shame and vulnerability aren’t topics that appeal to a lot of us at first glance. But what Brene Brown has to say is important and it has consequences for how we do youth ministry as well.

In youth ministry, I think we’re at a cross point, a point where we have to choose a new direction, a new way of doing things. But deciding on a new way of doing youth ministry involves risk, innovation, change…and none of these happen without vulnerability and every single one will make you face shame.

[Read more…]

The 7 regrets of youth pastors (1)

regrets graffiti

I’ve been in youth ministry for about fourteen years in one capacity or another. Looking back, I sure wish I would have done some things differently. I’m fairly sure many of us feel that way.

Now I personally think regrets are a waste of time but ‘7 things many youth pastors wish they’d done differently in hindsight’ didn’t sound quite as catchy for a title…

So here, we go with 7 things many youth pastors wished they had done differently aka the 7 regrets of youth pastors:

1. Avoiding conflicts

As Christians, we’re supposed to be loving, kind and forgiving. The problem is that this often results in an avoidance of conflict at all costs. I’ve let certain situations continue for too long because I wanted to avoid a conflict. Well, the conflict happened anyway and it was much nastier than it would have been if I had faced it head on.

[Read more…]

Helping teens deal with difficult situations at home

sad girl

There’s no such thing as a perfect family, but some of our teens face a more difficult situation at home than others. Their parents are divorced, they’re growing up in a single parent family, they’re part of a complicated family structure with step- and half-siblings, you name it. Or they have to deal with unsupportive parents who are not doing a good job in raising them, who take their own frustrations out on their kids for instance.

How do we help our teens to deal with difficult situations like this with their parents? Is there anyway we can help them, equip them? Can we in some way compensate for what they miss out? Here are some of my thoughts. [Read more…]

Do you know your ‘red buttons’?

red button

A couple of years ago, I was doing a management training provided by the hospital I worked for back then. One of the topics was team work and the trainer asked us to think about a specific coworker or employee we had trouble working with because they irritated us for some reason.

Someone came to my mind immediately: an experienced nurse whom I respected very much, but who frustrated me to no end. The trainer then explained the concept of ‘red buttons’: certain behavior or even certain words that trigger an excessive, overly emotional response in you.

I immediately knew the trainer was onto something and after some analyzing, I could figure out what went wrong with that nurse. She was patronizing me. She had over 30 years experience as a nurse and she made me feel it. I liked her as a person and I valued her as a nurse, but every time we interacted she pushed that red button with her attitude (though I’m sure she didn’t even mean it like that). [Read more…]

Why reading fiction is good for you

reading

I love reading.

Not a day goes by when I don’t pick up a book and read a few pages…or a whole book. Obviously, I read a lot about youth ministry, leadership, and related topics. But I also read a lot of fiction. Reading fiction is one of those things that really fills up my tank and prevents me from running on empty.

Yet I’ve often felt guilty about reading fiction because it feels like such a waste of time. Sure, it’s relaxing and everything, but not very useful…or is it? [Read more…]

The power of vulnerability

Every now and then you hear a message that has a profound impact on you. The TED talk on the power of vulnerability I saw the other day is such a message. Brené Brown calls herself a researcher-storyteller and some years ago, she did research into human connections. That research quickly turned into research on shame and vulnerability. She made a discovery that changed the way she lived her life.

I urge you to take 20 minutes to watch this video of her talk about what she discovered on why some people seem to be able to live ‘wholehearted’ and why others can’t:

[Read more…]