Why You’re Letting Your Old Job Run Your Current One

October 21, 2013 — 3 Comments

It happens too often.

I am up, walking around, coffee finished.

I go to my bathroom, turn on the shower, shut the curtain then…

I walk away.

I will go to the living room, see the dog and sometime even steal another level of Candy Crush.

5, 6, even 8 minutes will pass by until I finally get into the shower.

My wife calls it wasteful, I couldn’t agree more!

It is not a choice I consciously make, I do not like to waste water, but it has been ingrained in me since I was a wee little chap.

I grew up in the country, I mean way out in the woods.  I grew up with a well, not the kind that little Timmy would fall down but the kind that had an electric pump that pumped the water into our house.  So when I would turn on the shower in the morning as a kid, it was cold.  Most mornings, especially in the Fall and Winter, it would take upwards of 5, 6 or even 8 minutes to get warm!

Sound familiar?

It is amazing how ingrained and deeply learned some of our habits and reactions are, even when we know they do not make sense.  As we move from one position to another we often, even most of the time, carry these learned conditioned practices with us.  And more often than not they are hurting our ministry and opportunities to start over.  I will almost guarantee that you have some pieces in your ministry that are “cold shower” echoes from past ministries. Here are a few of those “cold shower” practices for your to look out for in your ministry now and when you move.

Distrust of Adults and Parents

This happens when we are young in ministry, but if we do not correct it soon, very soon, they it is a condition that we will take to our ministry graves.  When we are younger youth ministers, most of us get the notion in our heads that we have to do ministry with youth in spite of their parents.  We convince ourselves that our job is to minister to youth and do so in a vacuum without the parents.  This is one of the number one destroyers of a students faith.  It is imperative that we not only trust parents, but partner with them, not ask them to partner with us, in the development of their youths faith.  You cannot afford, your youth cannot afford, for your youth ministry to be one that has a distrust of parents and adults.

Someone/ Everyone is Against Me Syndrome

This is the one that I see most often and leads to the most “short term stays” from youth ministers.  Lets face it most youth ministers do not leave their previous church with bells on and everyone singing their name, there is usually some sort of tension, stress or problem that precipitates the leaving.  Many of the times disgruntled and angry parents play a significant part of this equation.  When we leave under these circumstance we often carry that baggage with us and enter into our new situation with a sensitive alert anxiety that goes off at the slightest criticism, or critique.  I cannot tell you how many youth ministers I have heard spout off phrases like, “they are all against me!”

No they are not.

There might be a few who are critiquing you, maybe even a little unfairly, but the elusive “they” are not.  Really guard yourself against this.  It will only lead to pain, distrust and ultimately frustration.

What Really Matters Disconnect

I have experienced this first hand with staff before. It happens all too often.  A new youth minister comes into a church believing they know what is the most really matters in youth ministry and what should really matter in the church they are going into.  Now if the search committee and the youth minister have done their jobs correctly these priorities should align pretty well, most of the time that does not happen and you have a youth minister coming into a church like the new spiritual sheriff in town.

This is not good.

While we are called to lead and help guide the spirituality of the people we do them and ourselves an injustice when we come in believing that we are in some sort of prophets of Baal showdown.  If you feel that way, you should not be at that church to begin with.  That is not your job, you are not the head pastor.  Just because you believe that something is the most important thing in the spiritual lives of teenagers does not make it a priority in the church you are working in.  You have to be a cultural anthropologist and find out what are the priorities of congregation and see if you can work with in those priorities.  I do not mean that you are benign in your ministry.  Just the opposite.  I want you to be wildly effective in your ministry and in order to do that you have to be in a place where you can join in with the mission of the people.  Remember it is their church, not yours.

What are some other cold shower echoes that we bring to ministry?

 

Stephen Ingram

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3 responses to Why You’re Letting Your Old Job Run Your Current One

  1. Love this article, Stephen! I am a bit caught up on the “What Really Matters Disconnect”. What if the Senior Pastor isn’t doing his/her job? What if his/her priorities are not Biblical? Don’t you think that God can use a youth minister to be the one to start the “Are we doing Church Biblically” conversation?

    I’ve had some lenghthy discussions on this topic with a buddy of mine. I had a “What Really Matters Disconnect” at a Church and was ready to leave but he encouraged me to stay saying, “If you don’t use your position to try to change things then no one will. I think that God puts us where we are to take care of things like this.” He wasn’t suggesting that I go in guns a-blazing and destroy the Church, but he was suggesting that when I feel like things don’t line up with the Bible I should speak up – not be passive.

    Thoughts?

    • Hey! Thanks for the comment! I think you are raising a really good point, a very tricky point, but a good point none the less. I think the first consideration is what kind of church are you in? Certain ecclesiastical structures are more available to the kinds of challenges you are talking about. Secondly, I think we have to be very careful with using phrases like “doing church Biblically.” To be honest I am not really sure what that even means and how that plays out in our context. It could mean that we all sell everything we own and begin living communally and focus all of our lives to helping the poor and the widows. It feels better to me to approach it from the angle of how we can do church better, more responsibly and with greater integrity based on the churches DNA, gifts and strengths. Now, I do want to go deeper in the idea of integrity. If the pastor is doing something that is unethical or boarders on unethical then by all means challenge that but do so through the proper channels, the church and the youth minister will be better off that way. At the end of the day I think a person has to find a place where they fit. I love when Paul talks about the church as being different parts of the body and one is not better than the other. Some churches are going to do and be fundamentally different than what I believe, and I am at a point where I am ok with that because I am careful not to work in those churches. When challenging, if you decide to do so, I think a Matthew 18 approach is the way to go! I hope this helps/clarifies!

      • Matthew 18 all the way! Love your input Stephen, and I agree that it’s dangerous to talk about “doing Church Biblically”. I suppose I mean the BASICS of the Church we see in the Bible. I’ll give an example…

        If a church focuses almost solely on reaching the people inside of the walls and not on reaching people who need the Gospel, that’s not doing church Biblically. Biblical church is ALL about evangelism. I don’t think you need to be Evangelical to realize that (for the record, none of us are). I think that if that happens the youth leader has responsibility to speak up.

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