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!
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?