My mom used to say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence because a septic tank lies underneath. Thus, my very loose translation of Proverbs 4:27 for youth workers: “Don’t look to the left at the megachurch or to the right at the big parachurch ministry.”
Have you ever experienced drive-by jealousy while passing a mega-ministry? Do you feel overwhelmed when Instagram and Twitter bombard you with attendance stats and successes? It can feel like a nonstop highlight reel of comparison.
People often comment about how great my job must be. Truthfully, it’s just like yours, full of hurting, broken kids who regularly make poor decisions. Although I usually post about the good stuff, the grass dies here just as often as at your place.
When your eyes and heart focus on what others have and do, three things happen: You lose because you become discouraged, kids lose because you’re distracted, and God’s Kingdom loses because his servant is disheartened.
If you’re stuck there, remember these two things:
1 Bloom where you’re planted. If you were to poll your teenagers, you’d discover they keep coming back for relationships, not a fancy building, free pizza, lasers, or Kinect. Kids love your group because they’re known there, they matter there, and people care for them, pray for them, and accept them there. Your ministry may sometimes look like a mess to you, but it’s a blessing to be able to share Jesus through it. Consider the lives and stories you have an opportunity to speak into, and strive daily to show Jesus in each of them. In this generation that’s so hungry for significance, kids are just waiting for you to give them something—and Someone—to live for.
2 Look forward. What can you add to the ministry landscape? More than you can imagine! Thousands of struggling youth workers are trying to figure out how to work in a context just like yours. God has taught you many lessons in the trenches, and others need to know how to deal with those same tough situations. Here’s how you can share your experiences so others benefit:
- Start a blog.
- Write a guest post for another blog.
- Submit a magazine article (easier than you think).
- Walk alongside a new youth worker in your area.
- Speak at a local training event.
Time to go water the lawn!
You Don’t Wish You Were Here by Josh Griffin originally appeared in the September/October issue of Group Magazine where he is a regular contributor for his “In the Trenches” column.