Pastors, Let’s Practice What We Preach
Youth ministry is draining. It can drain you to the point where you wonder, “Why am I still doing this?” That’s why it’s so important to practice what you preach to your students. To do this for the long haul you need PRAYER.
So many youth ministers burn out because they ignore the basics of their faith that they share with their students. If you want to be in ministry you need prayer. And it’s easier said than done because:
- It’s easy to confuse it with work.
- We assume we’ll get to it in a moment because it’s readily available.
- Busyness takes over.
- We invest in what others say about us over God.
No matter the reason you need to fight for your own spiritual life and practice what you preach by:
1. Embracing the Challenge
When you work in a church, surround yourself with Christians and have a Bible on your desk it’s easy to assume, “I can get to this anytime I want.” It’s going to be a struggle to:
- Pick up scripture
- Confess your sins
- Have quiet time
- Attend weekend worship
There are going to be times when you think that you can grow just by being in a church, the reality is faith takes work. Embrace the struggle and remind yourself it will be hard at times, but it’s worth it.
2. Setting It as Priority
Are you starting out your day, your meetings and programs with prayer? Whether it’s personal or professional prayer needs to consume everything that you are doing. You need to invite God to be a part of your everyday life.
The most important time to incorporate prayer is in the morning. Whether you get up at 5 a.m. or noon you need to make sure you are giving God thanks and seek His guidance. Build it in by putting it into your schedule and work at it.
3. Creating Boundaries.
Mixing prayer and work isn’t a bad thing; however, you do need clear boundaries. For example:
Studying for a message or teaching can’t substitute your own personal Bible study. You need to find opportunities to worship with your family or own your own.
Working as a youth minister doesn’t mean you are serving. A few years ago I started to serve in an outside ministry (Uncuffed Ministries) to help me understand that joy of loving others. It not only helped me in my spiritual journey but built an appreciation for what my own volunteers experience.
Working at weekend worship doesn’t mean you are embracing the sabbath. Set aside time when you just go with your family or on your own.
Separate the work from your personal prayer and allow God to fill you with His joy.
4. Building in Accountability.
You need people sharpening your faith journey. Whether it’s a spiritual director or a small group, you need people making sure you are constantly growing.
If your church has small groups then jump in. If your church doesn’t provide them then don’t be afraid to go down the street and check out another church. You need people praying with you and for you in your journey.
5. Taking Time Away to Retreat.
Youth ministry is messy and sometimes you need to step out and just purely focus on Christ. While conferences are a great place to get refreshed they aren’t a substitute for a retreat.
Retreats give you the ability to just spend time with God. You can offer up all your worries, anxieties and just focus on being rooted in Christ. For recommendations talk to your pastor, fellow youth workers or your diocesan director.
Prayer is one of the most essential tools you’ll need to do ministry for the long haul. Above all else make it a priority in how you do ministry and how you live your life. It might take work but the benefits always outweigh the labor.