During the first few years of my 7 year career in Youth Ministry my husband worked part-time at a bicycle shop nearby. This gave him the freedom to help me out with overnight youth events and such. The shop experience gave us a chance to minister to some teens outside of our youth group which was pretty neat. It was also a fun topic for Joel to “bond” with the guys in the youth group. The highlight for me was having Joel and I ride our tandem bicycle down the center aisle to the front of the church during worship so I could do a special youth sermon. It was a hoot!
I still find it amazing how 2 skinny bicycle tires can hold up to a few hundred pounds and transport all that weight from A to B! However, there are times when even the tires can’t help but become shaped like a taco! Back in those days Joel saw many a sad squished bike wheel in the shop. One major part of a bike wheels strength is the multiple thin spokes crisscrossing from one side to the other. If it weren’t for those spokes the circle would squish! But working together those skinny little pieces of metal can hold a whole lot of weight.
And The Point Is?
We are each a lot like that bike tire. We need structure and support to keep us strong or else we can get taco-d too, by angry parents, grumpy teens, unsupportive congregational members, uninvolved pastors, etc. When doing youth ministry we need the support of others who understand what we do, how hard we work, a listening ear, words of advice, and a whole lot of prayer!
4 Tools 4 Youth Ministry
Our company, Prepare For Rain, is all about being supportive spokes to hard working folks! We want to help you chase your passions and impact this world in a holy way. We hope our words of support will help you:
Set healthy boundaries for yourself both at church and home
Encouragement for the tough days
Experience an at-a-girl or at-a-boy for those good days!
Discover tools for your Youth Ministry Tool Kit!
We hope to be one of your “holy spokes” of support!! If you have a topic you’d like us to address send me an a message at the bottom of this page. We will do our best to answer your questions or find someone else who can!
Learn more about an amazing power tool made just for YMs like you (by clicking here)!!
In preparing for a national radio show this summer (7/23/13 program), the host explained what he wanted to cover with me. He was curious how I went from a career in full-time church-based youth ministry to an award-winning career as a field leader in the financial services industry.
Simple. Being in ministry put us in debt.
Don’t get me wrong. Being in ministry was very rewarding…and challenging. In part, because we always made so little.
Between my eight years (full-time) and my wife’s seven years, we were financially stressed. Very stressed.
I knew people in sales, especially in financial sales, like investments and insurance. It was all too clear that they were doing better financially than we were. When I debated whether I could be successful in that industry, I recognized that sales people need “people skills” and the ability to connect with others about matters of the heart. Since that is an essential skill in ministry, I believed that it could be a 2nd career path that I’d find both successful and meaningful. In fact, it ended up feeling as much a ministry as actually working within a church building.
The Trouble With Money
As a leader in a national financial planning firm, I saw a common thread in how people interacted with their money…how they felt about it…how they reacted to it.
“Trouble with money”—whether it’s our attitude about it or our behaviors with it—causes people a lot of stress. A nearly universal experience was that people didn’t feel like they ever had enough money. This wasn’t about greed, but about fear.
When Fear Comes To Town
Kara was 85 years old and widowed for many years. Her lifestyle was very comfortable. She was in extraordinarily good health. She had more than a half-million dollars in liquid assets. And she was very worried about what would happen if her health failed. She didn’t want to be a burden to her two adult kids, even though they were very successful in their own right. But Kara wanted to be sure that even an extreme long-term care event wouldn’t derail anyone in the family, financially. So, I completed a financial plan for her and was able to definitively show her she’d be fine; they’d be fine.
Ron was a depressed 57-year old when I met him. He’d lost over 50% of his retirement assets (401k plan at a major company) during the dot.com crash of 2000-2002. Because of the drop in his net worth, Ron concluded he’d need to keep working until he was at least 70. His goal of full-time fishing at age 60 was gone. Why?
He’d come to believe that because his 401(k) had reached $750,000, that he therefore needed $750,000 to retire.
Just because that’s how big the number on his statement got to before falling. When we completed a financial plan, we discovered that—based on his desired lifestyle needs and retirement goals—he only needed that value to be about $350,000, at age 60. He still had three more years to work and save…and his “shrunken” 401(k) was more than that. This news completely changed his outlook and empowered him to move forward with his original goal for retirement.
Before taking any steps, you need to get a clear picture of where your path is going. We need to work at rejecting fear in our lives. In the next blog, we’ll look at practical steps for healthy responses to money.
Engage here. What’s your experience with money? How about those around you? If you haven’t yet, download our free guide, Reclaim Your Purpose.
In the first post on this topic, we looked at the five ways God can respond to our praying. We looked at the question: Is there ever a time to stop praying?
Answer: still yes.
In this post, let’s begin to explore when our praying can actually get in the way. Our way.
Jonathan Edwards, one of the great Puritan American reformers (in fact, ranked #5 by one group), said
Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life.
He also warned against self-delusion. Certainly, people have the capacity to get themselves all ginned up during prayer–what he calls the “bubbling joy”–and, in so doing, go astray. From the resulting mixture of “self-confidence” and a “high opinion of themselves,” people are at risk of being swept up in their feelings.
Adults tend to think that teenagers are always swept up in their feelings. That’s it a natural state of being. It’s hard to argue with that point of view. But does that mean that adults don’t live in the same state?
So, for starters, here are 6 ways that even post-teens allow their feelings to confuse their prayer:
1. Believing that prayer is better than action
2. Preferring strong feelings over clear thinking
3. Minimizing others’ thoughts over our own “opinion”
4. Rejecting the reality that God is sometimes mute in response to our prayer
5. Giving more credence to “waiting in prayer” than “moving in faith”
6. Over-spiritualizing prayer while under-appreciating works
Praying: Vexing Stuff
You know, there are times when it’s just plain painful attempting to articulate what’s on my mind. The theologian in me (I have a Masters of Christian Studies to prove it) wants to provide chapter and verse to support multiple viewpoints. The writer in me wants the prose to flow beautifully. The youth pastor in me wants to make these blog posts drop-dead useful and applicable. And then there’s real life: limited time, competing responsibilities, meetings to attend, a job to do, a family to love, exercise that needs doing, etc. So, I just need to get this out to you.
Are there times in our lives when it is appropriate, maybe even necessary, to just stop praying? Yes, I think so. Are we, as a family of believers, open to considering this question? Even if I’m the only one that thinks about it?
Well, I guess time will tell.
Your turn. Has praying ever functioned as a delay-mechanism for you? A distraction? What are your thoughts?
Time to stop praying? Is there ever a time to stop praying?
Most of the time we think that God has a couple of options for answering our prayers, not unlike parents might answer their children’s requests:
But when you think about it, that’s not really how God works, is it? Particularly on the “Yes” side of the equation. Let’s delve deeper.
3. Yes, but not now.
4. Yes, but not like you were thinking.
My experience of God’s answers to prayer far more frequently fall into the 3rd and 4th categories. I sometimes wonder if even the 1st option, no, is actually more often a 3 or 4, in disguise.
After 4 Comes 5
And then there’s the 5th option, of which I am very well acquainted. Are you ready for it? Okay, then. Here you go:
What do you think of it?
What do you mean, you don’t know what to think of it? What’s not to understand? Fine. I’ll repeat it:
Oh, I get it. You were expecting to see something written in that space, right? Both times. Well, it is there.
The 5th option God has is silence. The non-answer answer.
When Prayer Takes One For The Team
In Exodus 14, we see at least one clear indication of when God moves from option 5–silence–and tells his people to stop praying. In fact, we see God actually gets tired of the “crying out” by the Israelites, so Moses is instructed to get the folks off of their knees and MOVING. Right after Moses has told everyone to be still.
Perhaps there’s a lesson in there about a heavenly operational procedure: MOVE.
This isn’t to say that prayer, as such, is an unworthy enterprise. Hardly. Scripture is full–FULL–of commendations to prayer.
In The Quiet Hours Of Praying
Nevertheless, for much of my faith journey, God’s principal reply to my prayers has been with the 5th option. In the history of the church, this has not been uncommon. But in the age of cable television and streaming worship services, one could too easily conclude that God is like a cosmic Amazon or eBay, where our prayers work like orders in His cue. We pray; miracles result. God is at work.
But moving forward when the path is unclear and the answers ephemeral, that’s difficult. And sometimes, like with Moses and the Israelites, that’s exactly what’s expected of us. It just doesn’t play well on television.
What’s your story? Have you had periods of silence to your praying? Long periods? What have you learned during these times?
Outrageous. They’ll know we are Christians…by our love?
I grew up singing this song. A lot. So much so, in fact, that it got tiresome to hear. Yet, the song bothered me beyond the mind-numbing repetition. There was something about the song’s lyrics that struck me, even as a kid, as sappy. Naive. Simplistic. And, too often, just plain untrue. Outrageous.
Don’t get me wrong. The song’s origins are, purportedly, from John 13:35. So, obviously, there is a theological foundation for the song, as you can see:
We are one in the Spirit We are one in the Lord We are one in the Spirit We are one in the Lord And we pray that all unity May one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians By our love, By our love Yes, they’ll know we are Christians By our love
We will walk with each other We will walk hand in hand We will walk with each other We will walk hand in hand And together we’ll spread the news That God is in our land
We will work with each other We will work side by side We will work with each other We will work side by side And we’ll guard each man’s dignity And save each man’s pride
All praise to the Father From whom all things come And all praise to Christ Jesus His only son And all praise to the Spirit Who makes us one [Lyrics from eLyrics.net]
James Versus John
Outrageous? My problem with the lyrics comes from James 2:14-17 [from The Message]:
Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
So, let us ponder together…
If people “know we are Christians by our love” then what message do they get when the behavior isn’t loving?
And what if the very worst behaviors you experience come from some of the same people singing the song with such feeling, such passion?
Does the church spend too much time in John and not enough in James?
Is this outrageous, or to be expected?
Engage here. What’s your story? Is your experience in the church one of congruence or disconnect? Who else do you want in this discussion? For more on living congruently, especially in ministry, check out our book.