- Christopher Wesley
Youth ministry can feel like an island. Even after 10 years of youth ministry, there are moments when I feel alone and abandoned by the rest of the church. It stinks, and can be debilitating.
CONNECTING WITH OTHER YOUTH WORKERSChances are there is a network in your region, it’s just a matter of finding them. You could look them up online or just call another church (doesn’t matter the denomination) and ask. Connecting with other youth ministers doesn’t mean planning something, it’s about doing life together. The best remedy for the isolation is finding people to laugh, cry and vent with.
PARTNERING WITH YOUR PASTORIf there is anyone who knows what it feels like to be alone it’s your pastor. Leadership can feel lonely because of the amount of responsibility that will sit on your shoulders. Find time to sit down and ask how he is doing. Invest in him first, and then as the relationship grows ask him how he builds community. While you might not be able to relate to everything each other experiences, you will be able to find solidarity that comes with leading others.
BEING MORE STRATEGIC WITH YOUR PRESENCEThere is a pressure to be at your students’ games and activities. This will help you connect with the greater community, not so much with your local church. While it’s important to be present in the community, it’s just as important to be present at the weekend Mass. By being present on the weekends, people will learn more about you and more about the student ministry. Not only can you recruit new ministers and connect with families, but you will feel more like a part of the everyday church community.
SERVING OTHERS FIRSTOn top of the pastor, you need to reach out to the other men and women working alongside of you. If the children’s ministry doesn’t succeed it will make your job that much harder. If the weekend liturgy struggles you’ll have a harder time convincing the next generation to stay connected past graduation. Your success is connected to those around you. That means sacrificing what you have in the short term so that in the long term the church as a whole can be healthy. Get to know your co-workers and they’ll get to know you.
WORKING IT OUT WITH GODThe evil one wants you to feel alone. In reality, you are never alone as long as you have God. If you do feel isolated, connect with God through prayer or seek out pastoral counseling. If you need to, ask God to send you the right people. Ask Him for the words you need to connect with others. God wants you to have community, you just need to reach out to Him. Connecting with others takes work. You might have pushback and some people might not get on board right away. You just need to respond by loving them and leading out. So, how are you connecting with others?
How have you combatted isolation and loneliness?