4031771702_b04b376904_o“Do you want to hold him?” We were in the delivery room, and my son had just taken his first breaths of air and let out a good scream. At 4.5 kg (10 lbs!), he was far from fragile, but I was still nervous. I’m the youngest in my family, and I did almost no babysitting growing up. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with a newborn. In fact, I’d never even held one before.

What if I do it wrong? What if I don’t support the head? What if the nurses get mad at me? I found myself secretly waiting for the day he turns 13 when—as a veteran youth worker—I’d finally know what to do with him. (Parents of teenagers, I know you’re laughing at me right now.)

Be honest—do you know that feeling? Some of us connect better to babies. Others prefer toddlers. Still others love the middle school years or the university age. For whatever reason, these phases of life just seem easier, more fun, or more comfortable than the others.

It’s the same with spiritual children. Some find their sweet spot at the early end of the disciple-making process. Befriending seekers and sharing Christ with lost people is their best days’ work. Others find their stride in those early steps right after someone has come to faith. You love taking a new Christian and teaching her or him how to walk in the faith. Still others relish the task of leadership development and multiplication. You thrill at seeing a Christ-follower learn how to not just follow and serve Jesus, but to share his life with others through evangelism and disciple making. We each have different gifts and areas of natural focus. God wired us for those sweet spots, where our gifting and passion meet in a supernatural area of fruitfulness. [Read more…]

2 Questions to Prevent “Burnout”

This is a guest post by Chris Thatcher. Chris is a long-time friend–we met at Multnomah University, graduated together, and then stayed connected during the last decade of ministry. Chris and his wife and their two boys minister to students in Pendleton, OR. He’ll be guest posting here regularly.  I know you’ll enjoy his writing–he’s a fantastic youth minister.

youth ministry burnout student ministry

(Photo by Tanozzo at Creative Commons)

The request came on the heels of a bone crushing and heart wrenching “season” that left me starving for family time. The enthusiastic director asked, “Hey, would you be our keynote camp speaker”? Unfortunately, this leader was clear about not wanting speakers’ families present for various reasons.  Unlike some leaders, the presence of my family is an energy giver in ministry situations, and actually helps me focus.  While on the verge of burnout, I knew better, but accepted the invitation anyway.  What ensued was a draining week of ministry, in which I operated around 60% of my capacity and returned to my lovely family at about half of that.

[Read more…]

How to Know if You Succeeded Today

What do you think about at the end of the day? When your head hits the pillow, do you ponder successes made? Do you contemplate opportunities lost? Did I think well today? Were my strategies good? Did I properly discern the problems of the day? Or, Did I accomplish my goals for the day? Did I make good progress on my to-do list?

Photo Credit: aloshbennett (Creative Commons)

The more ‘spiritual’ among us might ask, Did I speak about Jesus today? Did I live with great faith? Or, Did I serve with passion? Did I sacrifice for others? Do you see how the questions we ask ourselves today direct our actions tomorrow? How do you evaluate yourself?
[Read more…]

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