Now that we have launched our ministries and we are beginning the usual grind of student ministry, I wanted to suggest 3 things that need to be on the top of your to do list. If you are a youth worker who want their ministry to thrive as well as to personally thrive in your local church context, then make sure you do the following:
1) Clarify the expectations of your supervisor: I know that God has called you to ministry and God has called you to lead. And for that I am so happy for you. But as you embark on another year of ministry, it is vital that you and your supervisor are on the same page.
Your ministry is simply one part of the ministry machine of your church. Your supervisor / pastor has a larger plan for how the ministry you lead is to fit within the larger context of the church. They have passions, values, and benchmarks. Usually they are unspoken, but it is your job to clarify them. For when you win your supervisor, when they trust you and your leadership, you will be free to, then, accentuate your ministry with the unique passions and desires God has put on your heart.
2) Stay connected to your heart. Jesus is alive and active in your life and in the life of your ministry. It is so easy to get spun up by the fickleness of students and parents and the grind of church. But this doesn't mean that your church is unspiritual or that your parents are being disobedient. Life is hard and the dailiness and monotony of it can make the adventure of ministry often feel very far away.
But it is in the common and daily parts of life that God does his work. We must come to embrace the common parts of our job and the common seasons in ministry. Even more than that, we must embrace the common days of our own walk with God.
It is the daily connection to scripture, and the Spirit of God that allows us to continue to develop and grow spiritually. We are to be prepared in season and out of season. If we only went to the gym when it felt good we would lose the benefit of working out every day, in season and out, and lose out on the increased strength in our body. In the same way, we must stay connected to our heart and be aware of what God is doing in and through us as we continue to develop and grow our love and trust for Jesus .
3) Stay connected to students. There is a lot of administrative tasks for you to accomplish in order to keep the machine of your ministry rolling. This means that you must be in the office and you must accomplish your task in a timely manner. But make sure that with all you are doing, spending face time with actual students is still making the list.
It is very easy to begin to caricature your students, both in a good and a bad way. When you actually get eye ball to eye ball you will see who your students really are, where they really are at, and will be able to care for them much better. In fact your entire ministry will serve them much better because you will be programming for actual students rather then the idea of students.
Good luck as you start this new year. You have been given an incredibly high calling. You have been given the amazing privilege to be an ambassador of Jesus Christ to students who are increasingly isolated, lost, and alone. May God be gracious to you and your ministries as you plant and wanter, plant and water, and by God's faithfulness and grace, cause faith to grow in the lives of you students.