Have you heard the saying, “You can put lipstick on a pigs snout, but it’s still a pig?” This phrase is in reference to dressing up an ugly situation hoping you can disguise it, hiding all it’s flaws. Let’s be honest, when it comes to some youth ministries, sometimes there just isn’t enough lipstick.
Our youth ministries can get ugly sometimes . We try to dress it up for our parents, our pastors, the board, etc. There’s nothing wrong with an “ugly” youth ministry. Our youth ministries, like our students, like us, are becoming beautiful over time and through various cycles.
What I suggest is, not try to cover up the “ugly” with lipstick of excuses, pretending it isn’t ugly, in this moment.
Here are some of the lipsticks we’re tempted to put on our pig.
The Lipstick of Busyness
To add another metaphor, adding more activities to your calendar is like adding more deodorant when you haven’s showered in a few days, you still stink. More activities only masks the problem, hoping that no one will notice that the youth ministry is not making disciples, not making progress, and not growing.
Eventually, your youth ministry will slow down, and then it will hit you, “what was all that busyness for?” and your still stuck with a youth ministry going nowhere.
The Lipstick of Comparison
When we start saying things like, “Well, at least …” we’ve started lowering the bar.
Well, at least no one is pregnant.
Well, at least we’re not lot like….
Well, at least kids are coming
Is this bad? Not necessarily. Phrases like this are a coping mechanism when things are not going according to plan. We should always find the positive in our “pig”. We should always look for the small increments of growth and change in our students and celebrate it.
The problem is, if we’re using the phrase too often, it becomes a justification for not trying something different or for not giving more effort to change the things we can change to move our students deeper or further in their faith. It also becomes an excuse for not improving ourselves. The latter is something we have complete control over it. Let’s stop lowering our expectations of God, ourselves and our students and reach for higher goals.
The Lipstick of Numbers
More must mean we’re ok, right? No. Churches with bigger youth ministries just have bigger pigs to decorate. The big numbers can get in the way of a fair evaluation (if any) and slows our need to make changes.
Big numbers can mask flaws in our discipleship strategy. Big crowds are great but the youth ministry as a whole can be unhealthy.
Don’t let big numbers lull you into a false sense of security. Big numbers are not the end game, helping students become more like Jesus is.
The Lipstick of Happy
Everyone’s happy, that’s good, right? Sure it is, but is happiness a good indicator? But how did everyone get that way? Appeasement? Fulfillment?
I always want my students to be happy. I pray for their well being, but from a ministry context, my call is to put them in positions that will make them grow into who God is making them to be, this, sometimes, makes them unhappy.
This kind of unhappy is ok because it’s revealing something about their life and showing them they have room to grow.
We all have a pig, or some shade of pig. If we stay at a church long enough or stay in youth ministry long enough we’ll start to hear the “oinking”. Once that happens, we have a choice, dress up the pig with excuses and wallow in the mud with it or do what is necessary to turn things around.
Our youth ministries will always have a little ‘pig” in them because youth ministry, leadership, teenagers and life can get ugly, but we should always love our pig and do our best to care for it.
If I can help your youth ministry be better pig, click here to book me to speak, consult or give a workshop.
Remember, pigs can still do amazing things!!