We just completed our final youth group activity for the 2016-2017 school year. And for our rhythm, we are taking a much needed several week break. We have been running full speed since September 1 and our staff, volunteers, and even our students are tired and in desperate need for a break. So, instead of fighting it, we embrace it.
Do you take a break in your calendar?
When I first started in ministry, I never, ever, never, ever took a break. Finals week was a study break, Christmas break was a movie night, spring break was a mission trip, any break was an opportunity to be with students and build relationships and memories. I felt like every missed Wednesday night was a missed opportunity.
But over the years, I have realized that this need to continually be with students for every break was really my desperate attempt to get as many hours in as possible. You see, we all need a certain number of hours to establish ourselves with others. It is how friendships happen. The more hours, the more memories and history, the deeper the connections, and the greater impact for Jesus. And this is true and good.
What I have found to be interesting is that these hours are really more about me then they are about the students. I watch my adult leaders spend their first year volunteering feeling incredibly uncomfortable around our students, and magically, by the second year, they are all in emotionally, sharing their wisdom and empathy. These hours of investment don't really matter to students. They are open to adults and the more comfortable the adults are around them, the more they are willing to share life. Yes, students need hours, but not as much as we do as adults.
With that being said, maybe we should give our students a break from us and take a break when the calendar provides them for us. And right now, the calendar has done just that. It is dead week and finals week. We have no business invading students lives with programs. Give them time to study, be with friends, even miss you and the student ministry you run.
Then in 2-3 weeks when you kick it off again, they will be ready to jump back into the thing they have been missing.
Enjoy your break.
What should you do in these next couple of weeks? Yes, you should finalize your plan for the summer. Yes, you should go to graduations and parties. Yes, you should update your databases. Yes, you should clean out the youth ministry closet.
And. . .
You should rest. You should read. You should reflect. And then you should rest some more.
This student ministry gig can be grueling. There is so much that happens throughout the calendar year, so much ministry, so much to celebrate, so much to grieve. And unless we actually plan to do some soul care in the midst of it all we will get burned out and wrecked.
Jesus longs for us to be in it for the long haul, and this can only happen if we are healthy and running at an appropriate pace, with needed pit stops.
So, please, for these next two weeks, REST!