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Accepting Your Youth Ministry As They Are, Small and All

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Much of the chaos we experience as youth workers is self induced. We get entrenched in a mindset and build around that. Now, if that mindset is whole and healthy, all is well. When our mindset is unhealthy, watch out. For me, the word “accept” was unacceptable. It was a sign of surrender. What couldn’t I accept?

I couldn’t accept a small youth ministry

I was taught, indirectly, or otherwise, that small was bad. Small meant weak. Small was a sign that I could not get the job done, whatever that meant. Small was an indictment on my leadership ability and even my spirituality. I am learning to love my group, no matter what state they are in. Whether we are small or dysfunctional or whatever. They are my charge and I must learn, like the Apostle Paul, “to be content, whatever state I am in”.

I couldn’t accept working in a small town

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. I have experienced the bigness of life. I moved to Vero Beach, Fl, a much smaller town, but not a cloistered environment. I now work and live in a much smaller town of Pleasant Grove, Al.. It’s the kind of town where if I sneeze, someone texts me and says, “God Bless You.” Yeah, it’s that small. My life has seemed to get smaller over time. I struggle with small towns because I have such big ideas.

I couldn’t accept small mindedness (and I still can’t) 

I have ideas flying in my head all the time. I love change and forward progress, but not everyone does. Much of my misery in youth ministry is due to bucking the system and the small mindedness of a few. I just could not accept that they could not see the big picture or the big idea. This is one area that I refuse to lay down on, but I have changed my rate of change and do  better job of presenting those ideas.

Jesus accepted more than his disciples would have liked Him to.

Jesus accepted other disciples. James and John wanted to call down fire.

Jesus accepted being arrested. Peter wanted to fight.

Jesus accepted the cross. The disciples fled.

Who am I not to accept the Lord’s placement for my life or the people he has asked me to serve?

Accepting things as they are is still the toughest statement for me to live out. But I love the kids I pastor. I am working on accepting the town I live in. I will probably never accept small mindedness and I don’t think God will either. I had always been driven by the power of more and by the often unfair expectations of those who led me, but, after 25 years, I am finding my place and peace in accepting things as they are but with one foot always moving forward, just a little slower.

What do you find hardest to accept about your life or ministry?

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