Recently a couple of others (Mike Lovato and Josh Treece) have blogged on burning out or coming close. I am aware how easy it is to burn the candle at both ends. Hannah and I have one car which she takes to work in Waltham Abbey. To manage the commute and get to work in plenty of time she leaves at or very soon after 6:30pm! If I want a lift because of needing to carry more stuff than I can on the back of my Dawes Horizon or because I was given a lift home the previous night from a church activity I have to be up early. But because of the nature of youth work I am often not back home till 10:00pm. That makes for a very long day which when repeated a few times a week really does begin to burn the candle at both ends.
A few factors that should also be thrown in include the fact that I like to get into work early and get stuff out of the way before the busyness of the day with people popping in and the phone ringing which doesn’t quite happen when you walk in at 11:00am. We do a lot of assemblies etc in schools which require early morning starts on top of the late nights with the youth groups.
There is a great section in This Way to Youth Ministry (pp. 136-137) adapted from Les Parrott’s, Helping the Struggling Adolescent: A Counselling Guide:
Be more than your job
Maintain stability without stagnation
Live a whole life
Learn to say “no”
Remember that you are not the Messiah
Cultivate your sense of play
Keep the Sabbath
Do not take yourself too seriously
Remember not to let your job get in the way of your calling
Never step on the scale of comparison
Recognise that even the best farmer faces seasons of slow growth
Keep coming back to where you want to end up
This is a really important issue. It is so easy to loose the plot and get too busy. We need to be really focussed on our calling and the priorities that come from that, and also the things that therefore aren’t as important. We need to be bold at saying no as well as yes and understanding, as Doug Fields always says, that every time we say yes to something extra at church etc. means less time for God, ourselves and our family because those are always the first people to loose out. For me I find it is a real challenge but incredibly important to discern what is not just a good thing to do but a God thing – what is it that He wants to be happening.
What techniques/ways/thoughts does anyone else have on how they prevent burnout and understand their priorities?
Last night saw the launch of our local children’s and youth leader training. It was a good night with just over 40 people gathering to spend time in worship and being inspired about the work they do. New Harvest Community Church youth band led worship and they were really good. I spoke on Psalm 78 and God’s vision for our work with the next generation and then Johnny Douglas, a local church leader and ex-YFC man (who also happens to have a great new blog – Soul Health: Meandering with my Maker), spoke on culture and convictions. He spoke very well after what had been a really busy day for him. His two key words were culture and convictions and he was really hot on destroying this idea that it is all about the numbers – instead emphasising that it is about the lives we invest in and how we do that. Really good stuff.
It was all recorded and hopefully should be up on a podcast in the not to distant future.
Further events planned:
* ‘What’s your aim?’ and ‘Planning a Programme’ – Saturday 25th Nov 9am – 12noon
* ‘Bridging the gap between Youth/Children and Church and Community’ and ‘The appeal of God to the middle classes’ – Saturday 20th Jan 9am – 12noon
* First Aid Training – Saturday 17th Mar 9am – 5pm (Cost £25 per person)
If you are local to Brentwood and want some training do think about coming along. Get in touch if you want more information.
Various people (especially Marko and Lev) have drawn attention to the article by Christianity Today on the future of youth ministry in 50 years. It is a really tough question – I struggle to think what things will be like in 2 or 3 years time let alone 50 – I will be 73 by that stage! I think it will be interesting to see how key thoughts and agencies adapt over time – thinking both of the emergent group but also of groups such as Scripture Union, Youth for Christ, and Crusaders. What will their role be, how will they have adapted?
We had a strategy day for the local schools work group last weekend and someone there made a really interesting comment. What happens if the government takes all religious content out of the schools how then do we reach young people? If that were to happen – as seems increasingly likely, sad as it is, in this age of political correctness, it puts a big pressure on the church to ensure that it improves the way that it reaches out to young people. That is certainly a huge challenge to mull over.
I have been struck recently about the importance of volunteers in work at the church. It is so easy for workers in the church to be seen as the person who has been bought in to do it and they should do it all. But I don’t believe we are called to that – I believe we are called to try and do ourselves out of a job – to ensure we train, develop, encourage and support volunteers to the degree where they can take over our ministry.
The wider the team the easier it is too minister to young people for two reasons: firstly one person can only minister to a few young people, Jesus only had twelve disciples and even then he concentrated more on three of the twelve; secondly, hopefully the bigger the team the more varied your team members the more varied the young people you will be able to care for. I am blessed that I enjoy sport and playing sport with young people but I have some leaders who are great at craft, music, dance, drama etc.
Anyone else got any thoughts?