Would you ever venture out on a tightrope without a safety net below?
If you would, you are a braver person than me! I like my safety nets and for that fact my legs and face intact! Isn’t that sort of what we do in youth ministry. We put ourselves on a tight rope, up high in front of everyone. Everyone watching our every step and move, as we try to balance everything, holding tight to whatever we are trying to use to keep us up there.
If we are honest and real, those watching us, are also waiting to see if we fall. Just another person in ministry falling into whatever issue that trips them up and knocks them off the high place they have put themselves in.
In this role, we have been called to there IS danger and also excitement. We have been given a special skill, place, and opportunity. If we are smart we will not go it alone and we will not do it without some well place nets to catch us.
Here are 3 “nets” that we can use to catch us in our ministry walk in front of others…
Before you jump to the immediate conclusion and assumption, that I am going to launch into another tirade about pornography or social media, I am not. I am actually going to go a different direction and talk about the positive for a change. The inter-NET provides us, as youth workers, a good and helpful resource in being accountable, finding friends, and connecting with others who are doing the same thing as we are.
Through Facebook, Twitter, message boards, and blogs, we find others who are there with us in the day to day struggle and walk in ministry. Youth ministry is a lonely place sometimes, especially if you are not blessed to have others on staff or in your area that you can talk to. All be it virtual, you can find connection and a safe place to land, when times in ministry get tough.
It may seem like that guy (girl) down the road or the other side of town is the competition, or even dare I say the “enemy”. I have learned that getting together personally with others in ministry in your area is an awesome thing. I have been a part of local area networks for 18 out of 22 years of youth ministry in some shape or form. I have been in big ones in cities and smaller ones in rural local settings. Some of these men (and woman) of these local networks are some of my closest friends. Some of them became people who I could be more transparent and more real with than pretty much anyone else other than my wife and family. I can say with confidence that they have been there to “catch me” if I fell or began to lose my balance in the midst of the crazy circus act that is sometimes ministry.
I would strongly suggest finding or creating a local network in your area. It will not only help you it will help others. It will offer real in-person accountability, encouragement, and support with people how honestly “get” your area. No one else is going to quite understand the struggle and challenge of your specific town or area like other trying to do the same thing locally.
“This Thursday, Oct. 5th at 9am in the “Lancaster, PA Area” is our First “Lancaster Area Youth Workers Gathering” it will be at Commonwealth on Queen in Downtown Lancaster. The plan is to meet the first Thursday of each month. Lancaster Bible College will hopefully be our primary meeting location and sponsor staring in November.”
* Find a Local Network or if there a Network Near You by Checking Out- National Network of Youth Ministries-http://www.youthworkers.net/
The end of the day, you need to understand as much as it feels like you are “out there all alone” you are not. You are not doing this thing alone and you can’t do this thing alone….you will never do this thing alone! Your value and mission is not in what you do, but what is done through you. Your focus can not be on your little “k” kingdom of your ministry and church. Your focus, vision, and direction is found in the worth of the BIG”K” kingdom of God that you are called to. You know this, you teach this, but do you honestly believe it!?
What is going to catch you or cause you to fall ultimately in your ministry is how you define your NET-worth- Your “total value minus outside liabilities…”. Your value must be found not in your prideful self-sufficient, I-can-do-it-all attitude, but in the person who saw you and called you out onto the tightrope in the first place. He see you can do it, despite your flaws. He watches you and continues to call you forward The “Net” that will catch you in ministry is securely in the hands of the one who will always catch you. We lose sight of that and we will fall! When we lose sight of Christ and the worth we have in Him, that is when each one of us begin to slip, our ministry’s lose balance, and we will come crashing down in front of our family, church, and our students.
DAN ISTVANIK is the 5th to 8th-grade pastor at Victory Church in Lancaster, PA. He has been working in youth ministry for over 20 years serving churches in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Virginia. Besides serving in the local church setting he is also the youth ministry content writer for Parent Ministry.Net, along with being a contributor to a variety of other great youth ministry resources like Youthworker Journal, Group Magazine, Download Youth Ministry, and more. Additional he shares daily Jr. high/middle school ministry specific resources, and hints on his own blog “The Middle Years” at WWW.MIDDLEYEARSMINISTRY.COM