The TES printed a series of articles a while ago on behaviour.  One of them looked at the issue of those pupils who never stop talking.  It is an interesting article, one that can be applied both to schools and ministry within a church.  (You may need to register with the TES website to access it).  Here are a few snippets:


One Year 8 boy was making things hard for a new teacher. If he put the energy into his work that he was putting into talking all the time, we would be getting somewhere. When you listened to what he was saying, there was real intelligence there. And that’s what I told him. I said, ‘You’ve obviously got a good brain by the way you talk. I’d love to see some evidence of that on paper.’ Every time he stopped talking and made an effort to work, I’d praise him. I’d go up to him and say: ‘Look at that, that’s great. We want more of that.’ Little by little he began to produce something worthwhile.


I take the line that they are talking over and above the teachers because they want attention; they are saying, ‘I am here, listen to me’. I don’t say, ‘Shut up’, I say to them, ‘Yes, you have a voice, and you should be listened to, but you have to say the right things in the right places.’ I try to turn round what they have said towards their work.




Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

0 thoughts on “Prioritising opportunities”

  1. It’s an interesting one, and difficult to say the least. Obviously my life and work are rather different from yours, but I think a lot of the principles should be the same. From a work perspective I have to look at things objectively – where can we do the greatest good in the shortest time. Where is the critical path within any deal, if I don’t do something, will it cause more things to fail? Likewise, are some of the things that I’m being asked to do helpful, but ultimately there’s someone else that can do it, freeing up my time to do more important things.

    Obviously I’m poorly qualified to comment on the spiritual aspect these days, but I would say from past experience, ask, and you do tend to get an answer. You just have to be accepting, ready and prepared to see it.

    There’s never a simple answer, and someone will always be disappointed that you couldn’t be there for them.

    For what it’s worth, my thoughts are with you.

  2. Andy Stanley uses the phrase: ‘only do what only you can do’
    So basically, delegate the things that others could do equally well or better. I guess that’s easier to do when you have a large Staff team around you as Andy does ;o)

    But it poses a useful question to ask when considering opportunities for yourself: ‘I am I the only person who could do this?’ – either through skills & gifting or availability.

    In my experience, having a couple of people to chew over and bounce around these kind of decisions with is incredibly helpful. Preferably those not directly involved in the Youth Ministry. Sharing them verbally with others helps to set out the pros and cons in your own mind. Allowing others to assist you in making the decision also (hopefully) avoids the potential for selecting opportunities which are the most exciting and enjoyable rather than the most necessary and important.

    It’s an ongoing challenge, but trying to define a process should make the whole exercise less tiring and more efficient and focussed in the long-run.

    1. Thanks, I love this Andy Stanley quote, but I agree it’s how you translate that into a British church system where staff are expected to do so much.

      I can’t remember where I read about it but the concept of a personal board is something we’ve been looking at over the last few months – maybe time to try and make it a reality.

  3. I try to make sure I don’t let my work take up all of the time I could be spending with my wife and my boys. I do not allow my self to be out on a regular basis for more than three nights a week. There are always occasional exceptions but I feel it’s more important for me to be home at night more often that out. I have a fear of making my kids resentful of the church because I allowed it to make me to busy to see them. It’s complicated when church is work because you have aresposibility to your employers to do a good job abd develop the churchs ministry to young people. One thing I do is to have meetings at my house after the kids bed time, this means I’m around and that my wife, who is a lot smarter than me, can be involved. I have always valued her contributions even if she is less directly involved now. I think its a balancing act that goes on all the time between commitment to your job and ministry and commitment to your family. It’s great to see how God is blessing your ministry and I’ll look forward to hearing how it all pans out.

    1. Thanks Gordon, similar to you we try to host more meetings because although there’s some mess to clear up it’s easier to be around for bedtime.

      Are you down for Youthwork the Conference, would be good to properly catch up some time soon.

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