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We only have one life. That’s it. One go around here on the planet and, like so many, including myself, we treat it like a stolen car. We ram into things, we put it at risk, we attain high measures of speed and we abandon it when the heat is on. The only thing worse than that is parking it in the garage.
Stop disrespecting your life. I heard it clear as day. God and/or I was trying to get a message to me. I had been going through a lot. I had been anxious, moody, and over all a miserable person, but, unless you’re my wife, you wouldn’t know it.
I have the spiritual gift of phoniness, in the sense that I can hide what’s wrong while helping you with your problem. I heard Joss Whedon on NPR call this “hiding your damage while trying to create”.
That’s what people do. We hide our damage so we can portray to the world a well balanced, emotionally healthy, hard working, spiritually mature individual, when we know we are not.
Stop disrespecting your life. I heard it again and again. Listen, I wasn’t murdering anyone, but I had a gotten into a rut of not caring. and that is the worst kind of disrespect you can show the one life your given, but it’s not the only one.
If I were to create the 10 Commandments of Disrespecting One’s Life it would like like this:
Thou shalt not quit caring
I put this at the top because I think it’s the worst, the one I loathe in me. I’ve always cared and sometime too much. The wounds and scars of working with hurt people who hurt people, almost did me in. It’s still no excuse to quit caring.
Thou shalt not waste thy gifts
I’ve met so many gifted people. Musicians who’d rather do drugs. Artists who hide their gift because of fear and doubt. Writers who won’t start a blog or submit their work because they do not think it’s good enough. It’s tragic that so many do not see themselves as artists, even if their art is not traditional like baking or
Thou shalt not waste time
We can waste a lot of time worrying and having pity parties; neither of which helps anyone, including us. Time waits for no man. The future is happening right now like a moving train and we can either jump on or watch it pass by, but that train is neither stopping or even slowing down. We must jump, with both feet, as hard as we can and grab the handle and then work like mad to hang on until we get to where we are going. No one is coming to save you, you must save yourself.
Thou shalt not be selfish
Why not be generous. It’s only money, you can make more. Times. a different story. We should guard and invest our time. We can’t make more time, everything else we can afford to give away. All our gifts and talents were meant to be shared not hoarded. We have these gifts to make people laugh, smile, think, and believe. Why in the world would we hold that back? Pass it on.
Thou shalt not turn from thy calling
I have spent the past 27 yea working with teenagers and it is a badge I proudly wear. When I sensed where my life was heading, I dove in with both feet and did not turn back or turn away like Jonah. So many of you have something important to do, stop running from it.
Thou shalt not give less than 100%
It’s easier to just phone it in. It’s easier to just do enough. You can justify it by saying “they are not worthy of my best” and shrug it off. That hurts no one but you. You are not the better person because you give less.
Thou shalt not give into fear
Maybe because I am turning 50 next year but I am losing a lot of my fears. If the world has not killed me yet, its not going to in the next 20. I have more fight in me now than ever. I’m ready for the next leap, the next hurdle, the next jump. Screw fear.
Thou shalt not hide
Hiding does not mean evading the spot light, it means we might not even show up. We hide in the shadows and watch others succeed while we suck on bitter envy. We hide because we do not want to be rejected. The risk is too great to jump into a conversation, show up to that party, try something new.
The comedian Rodney Dangerfield joke, “When I was a kid I got no respect. I played hide-and-seek. They wouldn’t even look for me.”
No one is looking for you sunshine, you have to yell, “Here I am!!”
Thou shalt not waste your time on hate
Hating others is losing proposition. Tearing others down does not elevate you. Hate drains our soul and puts us on unnecessary guard duty, doing our best to protect the world from “others”.
Thou shalt not give up
This should be number two of the worst ways to disrespect the one life your given., but I needed s good closer. Giving up means you settled. You settled for the wrong guy or girl, the practical, or the average. I disagree that someone has to average in order that others might be great. I think everyone can be great in their own home, in their own school, or their own city.
Great does not mean a million views on Youtube, a thousand post shares (although your are welcome to try with this one) or being the king or queen of the dance, Great means you’re great. You’re a great hugger, a great friend, a great lover, and a great listener. It’s more important to be a great person than a great personality.
Giving up because you are not someone else’s version of great is not acceptable.
I have broken all of these commandments at some point in my life and sometimes multiples at the same time, but I’m done disrespecting my own life.
You were given a life. Don’t be disrespectful.
Which of these are you guilty of breaking?
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I’ve tried my best to please kids, to a point, but youth ministry is not a democracy. Some things are not up for a vote.
I don’t let kids vote what music is played in the youth hall or the van , I set the standard and give them options.
I don’t let them vote on the name of the youth ministry, I dribble out a few names to a few students to see what they think, and then we decide.
I don’t let them vote on where they go to camp, even if that means some do not go.
I don’t let them vote about what I preach on. I listen, ask questions, and let the Holy Spirit reveal it.
Can you imagine Moses taking a vote to go into the promise land?
Can you imagine Joshua taking a vote whether they should attack Jericho?
It’s not up for a vote if we’re going to feed the poor, share Jesus with the lost, have worship, or care of the lonely.
Can you imagine Jesus taking a vote on wether the disciples wanted to get in the boat and go to the other side?
We should always build consensus with young people, but young people do not know what they want, only want what is best of them, and most, do not understand the consequences of their choices; this is why they need a leader not a friend.
We should always listen, talk, and even debate, but some things, most things, are not up for a vote. Leaders have to lead and students will decide if they want to follow or not.
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If you have youth during the week of 4th of July, like I do, it can be a challenge to find a game that goes along with the holiday. Fear not, I, your youth ministry genie, have granted your wish for a fun 4th of July game.
Dice Spice: The Firecracker Edition is a print and play, dice rolling game where contestants compete to complete a list of items that come up when they roll the die.
This game is faced paced and you could have upward of 5-7 people playing. This makes a great stage game because of all the activity going on.
I hope you’ll check it out and have a fantastic 4th.
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Passion is a surface level emotion that acts like a valve to let off steam. There are terms like “an act of passion” when referring to an affair that just sort of happened or when someone kills someone due to a” fit of passion”.
Both incidents are surface level reactions that happen in the moment. Jesus wasn’t like that. Jesus did not react so much as he responded.; and when he responded, he responded deeply and with conviction.
Jesus lost a friend, Lazarus.
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. John 11:33
Such as Jesus’ response to his friends passing, that John, the author, saw fit to mention Jesus’ response again.
[ Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead ] Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. John 11:38
Jesus was someone who took initiative in his relationships. He invited people into his life rather than waiting to be invited.
He invited fishermen and tax collectors to follow him
He invited Peter to come to Him on the water.
He invited Thomas touch his hands and sides.
He invites all us who are wear and heavy laden to come unto Him.
Jesus lived and open life, inviting all kinds people to be a part of it.
If we want depth in our relationships, we will have to be the initiators.
For all my posting, videos, etc. I am a very private person. I like my world ordered and chaos is not welcome. This is why I, or you, do not like this idea opening up.
Invitations are not only invites to opportunity but to rejections or worse chaos. Our decision to let someone in, could turn our hold world upside down. Maybe that’s the point, Maybe, in order deepen our lives, a little chaos must come and challenge us.
Success comes from taking the initiative and following up… persisting… eloquently expressing the depth of your love. What simple action could you take today to produce a new momentum toward success in your life? Tony Robbins
No one is going to do it for us. Our initiative is an expression of our love. We have to move, open up, and invite others into our lives if we want to add depth to our days. An open life is an invitation to new worlds, and yes, a little chaos.
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“People care much more for how things look than how things are.”
― Donna Lynn Hope
This quote really says a lot. I’ve worked in a few shallow churches that were all about image and lacked a ton of substance. Shallowness, although, is not limited to the church.
I am disappointed with humanities lack of depth, which means I’m disappointed with my own lack of depth, in some areas. I can talk youth ministry, youth ministry theory, and all things youth ministry programming and discipleship. Poetry, not so much. But here is hope.
I am reading a book by Robert McKee called Story. A quote caught my attention concerning attending movies and it sparked this post (with more to come).
We do not wish to escape life but to find life, to use our minds in fresh, experimental ways, to flex our emotions, to enjoy, to learn, to add depth to our days – Robert McKee
I sat in Arby’s the other day, talking with a young man about ministry, when a gentleman from the booth next to us chimed in.
Dan the Carpet Guy: Do you think you can be saved by the Ten Commandments?
Dan The Carpet Guy: What about the fourth commandment?
Me: The Sabbath?
Dan the Carpet Guy: Yeah, I think many churches are disobedient to this.
Me: Well, you could attend a Seventh Day Adventist Church. They meet on Saturday. Where do you go to church now?
Dan The Carpet Guy: Baptist Church.
Me: Well, if it’s your conviction that you ought to worship on Saturday, then I say live your convictions and do that.
Dan The Carpet Guy: I can’t. My wife won’t let me.
Me: (Laughs hysterically)
We went back and forth, sharing scripture and jabs, all with a good attitude. What ensued was a great conversation and it added depth to my life.
We’re so afraid to talk deeply., to love deeply, or to share deeply for fear that we will be found out to be frauds or worse, shallow.
As we go deeper into the things we believe with other’s who believe the same and with those who disagree; depth will sneak up on us and attach itself to us, readying us for the next round of life.
“Maybe a person’s world can grow bigger in all the right ways, not too wide that it becomes shallow, just large enough to preserve its depth.” ― Deb Caletti,
Here’s my Facebook post where I share a little more.
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This is the 12th out of 12 posts from my series of reflections on Jeff Goins new book Real Artists Don’t Starve. It really hit a nerve in my life and I wanted to express those thoughts to you, the artists, the local youth workers who work so hard to accomplish what God has gifted you do in your own artistic way.
If this is your first time here, and you want to start from the beginning, you can click here for the first post, Real Youth Pastors Don’t Starve, otherwise, read on.
Mine is a cautionary tale to young youth workers seeking to please God. I hope, after these 12 posts, you’ve come to realize that you are an artist and what you do is valuable to God. At the end of day, realize that YOU and only YOU, not the local body you serve, is going to make the best decisions for your life. I almost realized this too late.
Let’s continue with the the tale.
I have never asked how much a job pays until I was hired. Crazy? Maybe. but the calling was more important than the pay check. It sounded crazy even as I was typing it. It may be one of the reasons I’m in the position I’m in financially today.
I’m not broke, but I’m not rolling in money. But, how many youth workers do you know rolling in money? If you see one, call the cops because something bad is going on.
In my 30’s and 40’s I wish I was more ambitious to get paid what I thought I was worth instead of just taking the job because I thought it was the right thing to do or God’s will. It may have been both or neither, but I wished I had negotiated better or at all.
It’s hard to look back and say I was wrong though. Every place I’ve worked (or the two years I was unemployed) God has taken care of me and my family, but I have dreams and goals now that could have been funded by making better decisions
Money isn’t that important when you are young and stupid. We want the experience, the thrill of the chase. I certainly got that and more but one of the downfalls of youth is its inability to look into the future and see who you want to be and how much you’d like to be making when you get there.
This past Sunday I spoke with a young man who had started a speaking ministry. He then became a youth pastor. After a year he was let go because he was made to choose between the ministry he had started and the job he had. This wasn’t a fair choice, if that’s how it went down. This kid has dreams and was made to choose between them. The money he was making as a youth pastor was helping him build his dream, his art.
In his book Real Artists Don’t Starve, Jeff shares this principle,
The Starving Artist despises the need for money. The Thriving Artist makes money to make art – Jeff Goins
When youth pastoring was my dream it paid the bills, not it funds my next dream of training and coaching youth workers. My job pays for
- my SoundCloud account where I post my podcast
- this website to be hosted
- the store where I post my resources.
It takes money to create and produce. Money serves the art I make not the other way around.
If you have dreams beyond youth pastoring or, like me, dreams of staying in youth ministry without the youth pastoring, it will take money. Consider the money you need to make to eventually
- build the boys home you want
- go on the mission field
- starts a training ministry
- open a bakery
Who knows the dreams God has placed in your heart (well, you do) but all those dreams will require money. How will you fund your dream? Here are a few ideas
Care about what a church is paying you.
As much as you want that job, don’t sell yourself short. Don’t just take the Jon because it seems like it’s the only church that wants you. Be prayerful and be patient. Make sure the church you work at values you and pays you accordingly. Negotiate your salary from the beginning (based on your needs) and then at three, five, and ten years.
Trade money for time
If a church cannot pay you what you are worth (and most cannot or will not) make sure you trade money for time. Don’t let a church pay you part time and work you full time. Make sure you negotiate the time you need to work on the other dreams or passions you have which will either pay your bills or fund your dreams.
If youth ministry/pastoring is your dream, make sure the church understands that and ask them for ways they can help make full time ministry a reality.
Don’t give away your dream for the sales pitch of “experience” or “opportunity”
Start something on the side
Take some something you already love, and are pretty darn good at, and make something of it. Try to do things that are in your wheelhouse and doesn’t conflict with the money making job.
My prayer for you is that you have as long a youth ministry career that you’d want. My prayer also is that that you don’t sacrifice future dreams and goals because you settled. Do all you can to serve the body you serve well but don’t be afraid. to work on your dreams while you do it.
Be prayerful, wise, and prudent about money, salaries, and negotiations. Don’t be greedy or over-inflate your capabilities to get a job, keep a job, or to get more money. Money is simply a means and not the end and money is certainly not worth fighting over.
God has taken care of my needs for 27 years through good decisions but mostly through terrible decisions I’ve made that had an adverse impact on my family. He took care of me and He will take care of you. Just be smarter than I was.
Jeff offers this last bit of advice and it seems fitting to leave you with.
money is the means to making art, but it must never be the master. – Jeff Goins
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This is the 11th post in my series of 12 posts on the new book by Jeff Goins, Real Artists Don’t Starve. It’s my attempt to convince youth workers that they’re artists and that their work matters.
Being a youth pastor for 27 years sounds romantic, but it’s also pretty one note. I’m eventually not going to be a full time youth pastor. I’ll always do youth ministry, but not in the youth pastor role. This brings me to the point of this blog, you should be diversifying your life.
Unless you are planning to climb the ministerial ladder (which is not all its cracked up to be), become a senior pastor, and build a large church, you should be diversifying your life/career. The church, that body you serve for no matter how long, does not and will not owe you anything. They’ll look at you and say, “You should have been making plans.”
When I made a lifetime to commitment to youth ministry 27 yeas ago, I had no idea what I was saying. My 22 year old self had not idea what was in store. It’s hard to say if I would change anything but I would certainly add to my life more skills, certificates, and whatever else would help me get ready for a time when I would not a youth pastor.
Thankfully, in the past ten years, I’ve been able to adapt to the internet and technology. I’ve been able to use these things as a means to create the life I want in the future which is to train and inspire youth workers, but even that has become diversified between this blog, my store, my Youtube channel and my podcast.
The Starving Artist masters one craft. The Thriving Artist masters many. – Jeff Goins
The same is true for youth workers. If you were no longer able to be a youth pastor in a local church, what would you do? Let’s say, like in the market crash of 2008 where people lost their retirement, etc. you suffered a crash of some kind that left you devastated and you had to start over. What next?
This is why diversifying your talent portfolio is so important. In the midst of your ministry you could be skill building, learning, adapting, and when the time comes, you’d be ready for whats next.
Here are eight things you could be doing to prepare for what’s next
Get your CDL license so you can drive something besides a church van.
Improve your computer skills (how to build websites, fix computers, etc.)
Get certified in another passion (gun instructor, CPR, lifeguarding, etc.)
Improve your writing skills (start a blog, write book reviews, etc.)
Improve your communication skills (Take a class online or off, join a Toast Masters, start a podcast)
Learn a new skill that’s in high demand (welding, car repair, etc.)
Start a side business (catering, dog walking, etc.)
Finish or start your degree
Network like crazy and get to know people in various fields (ministry, business, finance, technology, etc.)
Your art is never beholden to a single form. You can always change and evolve, and the best artists do this regularly. They understand that in order to thrive, you have to master more than one skill. This is the Rule of the Portfolio: the Starving Artist believes she must master a single skill, whereas the Thriving Artist builds a diverse body of work. – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve
There are thing you are learning in ministry that will help you later on. You also brought some skills into the ministry that are helping you ugh where you’re at. Like home and auto and your internet and cable, you should be bundling those into crafting a life after youth ministry.
You say, “But Paul, I’m 25. I have plenty of time.” Until you look up one day and you don’t. We have a responsibility to our church to do a good job but we, if we’re married, owe our families a good life. Unless you work at a mega church, with a fantastic retirement package, the local church you work at will be of no help to you one day. You have to help yourself now.
Jeff relays the story of Michelangelo and how he diversified his skills t be become unbeatable. In the middle of his already established career he learned architecture and began designing St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Michaelangelo start with sculpture, moved to painting and leaned new skills as the opportunity arose. Do not say no to opportunities to learn new things, you’re only hurting yourself.
We must realize that each week we teach, preach, do outreaches, etc, that they are not solitary acts, we are building a body of work. If we build wisely, and intentionally, “What’s next” won’t be as difficult to answer.
On to the final post: Real Youth Pastors Don’t Give Up Their Dreams
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This is my 10th post, in a series of 12, where I use Jeff Goins book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, to convince and inspire you, the local youth worker, that you are an artist.
This particular chapter deals with artists who give away too much of their art or do not recognize the worth of their work or realize too late.
The church does not own you or your God given abilities. You are loaning them to a particular Body for a season (or several seasons). I want you to be a smart artist who recognizes what you can do, not in prideful way but a discerning way, otherwise, like many other jobs, your talents will be abused or worse, forsaken.
The church, in it’s call and design, is meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus, in the carnal, most church are autonomous organizations that define themselves how they want, feeling their way in the dark, and doing their best in light of God’s word.
This chapter of Jeff’s book deals with artists who wished they had recognized that their gifts and talents were being misspent and the artist himself held back from being all they could be. Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers was such an Artist (band) and this is what he said after he discovered that the record company had done him wrong.
And when you trust the system fully, there may come a time when the system no longer needs you. “I wish I’d had a mentor,” he told me. “I never picked up on the fact that if you want to get somewhere, look at where you’re trying to get and start by studying the people who’ve gotten where you want to go.”
This is true when we do not take ownership (being good stewards) of what God has given us.
Sadly many youth workers, maybe even you, have told themselves that it was God’s will that you’re supposed to be at the church you’re at, even if it’s toxic. I disagree. This is where the youth pastor job is just a job. There is call, but you have choices as to where you want to serve without the fear of God’s wrath coming down upon your head.
This is where a ‘church” is like any other organization. The church is far from perfect and often reflects any other “business” with terrible bosses, underpaid staff, and terrible working conditions and we chalk it up to God’s will. I disagree. I do not believe it is God’s will to be miserable when we have a choice not to be.
We have to own our faith and talent, like a musician should own their songs, and decide what is acceptable and what is not, otherwise the system will dictate that for you.
Owning your faith means you don’t drink the Kool Aid everyone is feeding you. It means, when the orderlies come with your meds you hide them in the back of you mouth between check and gum in stead of swallowing it. It means thinking for yourself, being clear headed and discerning. Newsflash: Your Pastor, board, deacons, elders, are not always right and it’s ok to disagree.
If you continue to go along and believe that it’s Gods will that you should suffer under terrible,
out of context preaching
awful communication skills
a lack of vision for the community in which you live
a laychsidaiscial, satisfied, way of how God’s business get done, then you will look up one day ,like Stephen Kellogg, and discover that you gave away a good many years to a system that could have cared less wether you
became your best
were emotionally/mentally/spiritually healthy
were prepared for the future (professionally/spiritually/or financially)
The “system” will alway carry on, while many youth workers limp away or worse, decay within that system.
I know this sounds like a dire warning, and maybe it is. You are a believer in Christ who loves young people and most of you are like the prophets of old, filled with fire and gasoline to burn, as described by Hebrews
They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they were put to death by the sword. They went around in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, oppressed, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and hid in caves andholes in the ground.These were all commended for their faith, yet they did not receive what was promised.…
Many of the churches and organizations you work for are not worthy of your God given talent. They waste it, abuse, ignore it rather than nurture it and give it opportunity to flourish.
Taking ownership of your faith means not casting off your responsibility to
- feed yourself from God’s word than take what is said from the pulpit as gospel truth.
- to better yourself by reading books, listening to podcasts., watching videos, etc. from various disciplines.
- to look for opportunities, outside the church, that will allow you to shine the way God made you to shine
I can’t tell you whether you should leave your church or not, that’s between you and God, but I would ask that you prayerfully (not pridefully) consider the gifts God has given you and ask yourself, “Am I being used for God’s glory or just being used?”
Tenth post in this series: 9 Ways You Should Be Preparing For A Life After Youth Ministry
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This is the ninth post in my Real Youth Pastors Don’t Starve Series, as I attempt to convince you, the local youth worker, that you are an artist. Each post is my take on Jeff Goins book Real Artists Don’t Starve.
Let jump right into this. You must value yourself and the work you do. That’s step one to getting the respect you are look looking for.
Your work matters. The preaching, the teaching, the meetings, and the interactions all coalesce into a body of work called a career. We should respect, and take pride in, our work like a carpenter takes pride in the homes he builds or the chef respects the food he cooks.
Something Chef Robert Irvine used to say on his show, Dinner Impossible, has alway stuck with me, “My name is on this plate.” Your name is on the dish you serve whether you like it or not and reviews will follow.
Everything I serve to students is my take, my interpretation, my prayerful offering of what Scripture says and the youth program is the taco shell that holds all the goodness. I’m serving students, parents, and the congregation, a Youth Ministry Jesus Taco and I want it to be good.
the Rule of Value: the Starving Artist works for free; the Thriving Artist always works for something. As artists, we must value our work before others will. – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve
How can we value the work we do?
Say no to right things
Being a servant is not being a slave. We are slaves to Christ and not to man or our church or our Pastor. Our lives and our families are worth more than the ministry we serve. We must value the word No for the sake of our families and, sometimes, for the sake of our souls.
We value what we do by staying in our lane, not over-extending ourselves thereby keeping ourselves emotionally healthy so we can serve students out of a pure and healthy heart.
Don’t be afraid to ask
Now, if you’re a volunteer, who’s the primary youth leader, it’s not a sin to put a price on your time. I know you do youth ministry for the love of kids, but I also know you wish your church or your pastor would appreciate you more for what you do.
Don’t be afraid to turn in receipts and ask for recompense for your gas or taking a kid out to eat. Ask your church to pay for your camp fee or to pay for youth worker conferences you want to go to. If your church doesn’t step up in those areas, they do not value you.
Stop making excuses
Yes, I know you work hard, but part of taking pride in work means not making excuses of why we cannot do our best. Your best is not determined by budget, it’s determined by your will.
God has given us the awesome privilege to serve students. We believe and have faith in God that he will do a great work in them, but we also must believe He’ll do a good work in us as leaders as well.
The respect we give our calling and our gifts increases the respect we’ll receive. If we do not respect our ministry, our time, or gifts, others will not either. The excuses we make for not doing our best, decreases the value and thereby the respect we’ll receive in doing it.
Your time is worth something. The ministry you do is worth something. Don’t let others exploit your gifts and talents. Serve unselfishly, but serve wisely.
If you’re feeling resentment at all, you’re charging too little. – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve
Feeling under appreciated can lead to resentment but, by not appropriately valuing the work we do, we bring it on ourselves.
If you’re thinking of volunteering for your church’s youth pastor position, don’t accept these lame reasons a church will not offer something for your time and talent,
‘this will be good experience for you”
‘you can put this on your resume’
“God will bless you”
Yes, God will bless you, and you should give your church the opportunity to be a vehicle of that blessing otherwise you’re just being taken advantage of.
I’ll say it again, the work you do with students matters. Don’t let others diminish it with cheap words or cheap wallets.
One final word of advice as you attempt to put a value on what you do, whether you’re a volunteer, part time, or full time youth worker,
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. Romans 12:13
Not thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought, doe snot mean we ought not think highly of ourselves at all.
Ninth post in the series: Take Ownership Over Your God Given Talents Or Somebody Else Will
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