In my last weeks of being a full time youth pastor, I sat with my students in a small group and asked them a serious question, “What did I do well, so I can pass it on to other youth workers”. I didn’t ask them to flower me with compliments or niceties, I ask them for the truth. My students gave me eight qualities they thought I excelled in that they said they would want in any youth pastor.
This will be an eight part series, so be sure to check back for a link to the next post. This trait may have blessed me the most as it something I really tried to do well.
We all have to show up if we want to be successful, but how we show it is equally important. I always did my best to stay on an emotional and spiritual keel. They didn’t see a raving, zealot one week and a depressed, hard luck guy the next. They knew who they were getting week in and week out.
I consistently tried to be the optimist. I talked about what we could do, not about what we could not do or why we could not do it. Positivity, even in the midst of challenge, encourages students to see hope in every situation.
I tried to be consistent in my discipline. I didn’t treat kids differently, in regards to discipline, although there were exceptions but those exceptions applied to everyone, not just a few. Just because your daddy was on the board or you had come to the youth group forever, didn’t abstain you from the standards we created so we could have peace, unity and productivity.
Oscar Wilde once said, “Consistency is the hallmark of the unimaginative.” I disagree. Consistency, in the core things, allows you to be creative with every thing else. When you are constantly changing the program, the goals, and the expectations, you’re only creating chaos and confusion in what students can expect from you and from the youth group. It is like laying so many tracks for a train but still does not know where it is going. Students need consistency in an ever changing world.
Our goal was not to have the biggest youth group, it was to show up every week and love one another, pray for one another and help each other follow the Lord. I constantly kept the biblical directives of honoring God, following Jesus, inviting others to do the same in front of or students so they were reminded what the gospel is all about.
I also tried to be consistent in our weekly programming as to what our format was but I was also consistently changing things up so the group wouldn’t get bored and think they knew what God was going to do next. I didn’t allow them to “figure out” church so sometimes we has short message and long prayer times, sometimes we had prayer stations, and sometimes it was all worship as the Spirit led. I wanted to consistently send the message, “God can mess up our meeting any time he wants to” so we created the space to allow Him to do so.
I did my best to keep consistent in sharing who God was. God was not merciless and cruel dictator one week, throwing people into hell and gracious and kind the next. God doesn’t change. He’s always loving, always kind, always the Father, and always seeking to redeem us.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever – Hebrews 13:8
The last thing I tried to be consistent in, was urging students on in their spiritual growth. I would write devotions for them, post Instagram devotions, direct them to devotions online, etc. I wanted them to grow in their faith, consistently, is I grew myself consistently, modeling what it looked like to work through a struggle, to cry out to God in hard times during prayer and worship and to let them pray for me on occasion to show that even leaders need prayers and that their prayers were equally effective.
I love this quote by Tony Robbins
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.”
It is better to be show kids consistency than it is to hop on the next trend or fad. If I can encourage you to do anything it is to consistently love the kids you have week in and week out, welcome your guests as if they were long lost friends, and keep feeding your own souls so you have something to offer them.
If you’re looking for consistent, weekly encouragement and resources, be sure to sign up for the Youth Ministry Round Up newsletter.
Next, Part Two: Create Expectations