Hi! I am praying for you right now!
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But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against these things. –Galatians 5:22-23
We all have things that trigger our impatience. Maybe for you it’s traffic, or kids, or being late, or parents, or your spouse. But, what is it that actually fuels impatience in our lives? I think there are three big enemies of patience:
1. Overload. We try to cram too much activity into our schedules and this results in a lifestyle that has no margin. It leaves no breathing room. So when we find ourselves running behind, it breeds impatience. When you live a life with no margin, any little mismanagement or unforeseen circumstance can result in losing your patience.
2. Unrealistic Expectations. Many of us place high expectations on those closest to us. Typically, these people are our spouse, kids, and closest friends. Then, when they don’t live up to our expectations, we grow impatient. But, the truth is that people cannot possibly live up to every expectation (many of which are unspoken) that we place on them. People aren’t perfect and sooner or later, they won’t live up to our expectations.
3. Pride. Impatience rears its ugly head whenever pride is challenged. When we selfishly think we deserve better treatment than we receive, our egos puff up and our impatience blows out.
I wish there were some easy answers for resolving these enemies to patience. But, these are issues that most Christians continue to wrestle with throughout their lives. I know that I do.
The bottom line is that we need to continually pursue the reign of God’s kingdom in our lives, where we say, “Not my will Lord, but Yours.” When we do this, we begin to see new options for how we can respond. We see that we don’t have to walk hand-in-hand with the enemies of patience. When someone smacks our face, we can turn and give her the other cheek. When someone wants our shirt, we can offer him our coat as well. When someone forces us to walk a mile on his behalf, we can walk a second mile voluntarily.
Each day we face choices where we either embrace the enemies of patience or embrace God’s kingdom. As we seek His kingdom, patience grows. Our patience changes us, and it changes others as well. Today, choose to allow God to reign in you and grow the fruit of patience in your life.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we knew where we were headed? Sure, like many people, you’ve probably made some long term goals and have a path of sorts you hope your life journey takes you. Maybe you’ve even gone the extra mile and met with a life coach who has helped you learn more about yourself than you know what to do with.
Because I’ve been in youth ministry for quite a while, I’m often asked what it takes to last in ministry…how did I get where I am? Honest answer: I don’t know! I had no idea when I began ministry as a junior high pastor back in 1988 that I’d still be doing it….and enjoying it!
The reality is none of us really know where we’re headed. Sure, we make our plans, but God often times has plans of His own that you could have never predicted (P.S. They are ALWAYS better than your plans). I try not to make promises because I’ve been guilty of breaking far too many in the past, but I’d like to make one here: Your life will not turn out the way you’ve planned. I promise. Money-back guarantee.
Discouraged? Don’t be! Remember this: When you don’t know where you’re headed, Remember…God knows where he’s taking you! Your future is in His very capable hands, and he has amazing plans for it.
But what do you do in the meantime? What do you do on your road to where you don’t know you’re headed? How do you get to where you don’t even know you’re going?
EMBRACE THE AMBIGUITY
I’ve discovered something over the years. Humans seem to crave clarity and God seems incredibly comfortable not providing it. Pick your favorite person in Scripture and reread their story. Odds are it is chuck full of ambiguity and uncertainty. Embrace the ambiguity of life. Hug it out with the uncertainty you encounter on a daily basis. Might as well, because it’s here to stay.
PERSEVERE THROUGH ADVERSITY
Think about your favorite bible character again. Not only was their life marked with ambiguity, but I’d be willing to bet there was a fair amount of adversity, too! Ministry is tough. There’s adversity with parents, with students, with volunteers, with other staff members and with the church janitor….and that’s all just on Sunday!
When I’m asked how I’ve lasted in youth ministry, my typical answer is a fairly simple one: I refuse to quit. When ministry has felt brutally tough, I’ve refused to quit. I’m not an awesome youth pastor, but I’m a stubborn one! On your way to where you don’t know you’re going there will be times you have to dig in your heels and simply persevere through the adversity of the moment, minute, month or year.
REST IN HIS AUTHORITY
I love this verse from Job’s life; a life marked by a season of tremendous ambiguity and adversity.
“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2
God is the ultimate authority for where your life and ministry are headed. The creator of the universe; the one who knit you together in your mother’s womb, spoke calm to a raging sea and raised Himself from the dead has a plan and purpose for your life, and nothing can thwart it. Like Job, it may be valuable to simply rest in your heavenly Father’s authority from time to time.
Life is a journey. Throw youth ministry into the mix and things get bonkers in a hurry. There’s simply no way to accurately chart your course.
You, my friends, are on a road to God knows where! But remember….God knows where!
So in no particular order, here were some of the fan favorites and why they were chosen.
DIVIDED BY FAITH, by Smith and Emerson—great resource if you’re building towards a multicultural church/youth ministry.
YOUR FIRST 2 YEARS OF YOUTH MINISTRY, by Doug Fields—comprehensive book to help you not only survive, but thrive during the beginning phases of your youth ministry career and prepare for the long haul in ministry.
SUSTAINABLE YOUTH MINISTRY, by Mark Devries—in this book Devries pinpoints problems that cause division and burnout in addition to dispelling strongly held myths. He does all of this while providing practical tools and structures that church leaders need to lay a strong foundation for a youth ministry not built around personality or trend.
THE MINISTRY OF NURTURE by Duffy Robbins—a practical, in depth look at leading your kids into discipleship.
ADOPTIVE YOUTH MINISTRY by Chap Clark—the focus of this book is to help you learn how to integrate emerging generations into the family of faith, helping young adults become active participants in God’s redemptive community.
TAKING THEOLOGY TO YOUTH MINISTRY by Andrew Root—focuses on addressing key theological ideas in a modern youth context.
THE MASTER PLAN OF EVANGELISM by Robert Coleman—this book reminds disciple makers to teach to the masses, model to large groups, mentor a few, and multiply yourself through 1 or 2 people.
SEARCHING FOR GOD KNOWS WHAT by Donald Miller—this book reminds us that relationship is God’s way of leading us to redemption.
YOUTH MINISTRY MANAGEMENT TOOLS 2.0: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO SUCCESSFULLY MANAGE YOUR MINISTRY by Mike A. Work and Ginny Olson—it honestly simplifies all of the practical essentials, gives you sample forms and provides a quick primer on background checks, medical releases, etc.
THE THEOLOGICAL TURN IN YOUTH MINISTRY by Kenda Dean and Andrew Root—the book helps you to reflect on your own practice of theology, and learn how to share that theology through rich, compassionate conversation and purposeful experience.
LETTERS TO A YOUTH WORKER by Mark Devries—this book allows you to have some of the best youth ministers in the country ride shotgun on your journey by providing wisdom and insight into practical and effective youth ministry.
PRESENCE-CENTERED YOUTH MINISTRY by Mike King—this book gives shape to what it means to develop a ministry where kids learn what it is to love and follow Christ through the classic disciplines and potent symbols and practices that have sustained the church over the centuries.
LOVE DOES by Bob Goff—this book is a light and fun, unique and profound read with the lessons drawn from Bob’s life and attitude and just might inspire you to be secretly incredible, too.
GOSPEL-CENTERED YOUTH MINISTRY—both practical and theological, the authors work to explore how each ministry activity serves to teach, form and equip our teens with the gospel.
GOSPEL-CENTERED DISCIPLESHIP—outlines a spiritual transformation through the work of the gospel in an intentional relationship between shepherd and sheep.
CHOOSING TO CHEAT by Andy Stanley—a great book for setting healthy boundaries around your team so that you can effectively serve your family and serve in your ministry.
BECOMING A COACHING LEADER by Daniel Harkavy—this book shows how coaching makes developing people a high-payoff activity. It allows you to equip tomorrow’s leaders today. And it gives you the ability to improve performance while raising the quality of life inside and outside of the ministry.
GETTING TO YES AND CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS—this book is useful for learning to navigate the important church staff and parenting issues that go with student ministry.
DON’T DO THIS by Len Kegler and Jonathan Hobbs—helps rookie youth leaders to know some things that may be more advantageous to stay away from in their youth ministry journey.
PRACTICING PASSION by Kenda Creasy Dean—does a great job of placing youth ministry in the context of the local church, and the responsibilities that each has for the other.
THE YOUTH BUILDER by Jim Burns—this book can help you to make a life-changing impact in the lives of your young people.
PLAYING GOD by Andy Crouch—this book looks at the concept of power and how we’ve made it a dirty word and how the misuse of power causes many different problems in the world.
YOUTH MINISTRY 3.0: A MANIFESTO OF WHERE WE’VE BEEN, WHERE WE ARE AND WHERE WE NEED TO GO by Mark Oestreicher—in this book youth workers will explore the voices of other youth workers, why we need change in youth ministry, from a ministry moving away from dependence on programs, to one that is focused on communion and mission.
MY FIRST 90 DAYS IN MINISTRY by Group—practical, from the trenches advice to keep you on safe ground as you navigate a new church culture, settle into a ministry role, and sort through a pile of priorities.
THIS WAY TO YOUTH MINISTRY by Duffy Robbins—in this book thirty-year youth ministry veteran Duffy Robbins explores the theology, theory and practice of youth ministry to serve as a field guild to helping you navigate this unique calling.
THE GODBEARING LIFE by Kenda Dean and Ron Foster—in this book the authors offer a spiritual primer and practical guide for those who pastor young people.
REVISITING RELATIONAL YOUTH MINISTRY by Andy Root—this book shows that true relational youth ministry shaped by the incarnation is a commitment to enter into the suffering of all, to offer all those in high school or junior high the solidarity of the church and gives us guidance for how to effectively enter in.