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Tag Archives | loneliness

Do you have a ‘person’?

As with most TV shows, there’s a lot of questionable content in Grey’s Anatomy. Still, I’ve been a loyal fan from the very start. The show certainly has had it ups and severe dips, but what I love about it is the friendships it portrays.

One of the strongest friendships is the one between Meredith and Christina. They meet as medical interns and bond like sisters, their friendship growing ever stronger over the years. Like girls are prone to do, they have their own rituals, their own language, and code words.

One of those expressions is this: “you’re my person”. It code for your emergency contact, the person you want people to call when there’s something wrong with you, but also the first person you want to tell things yourself. It’s the person you can confide everything in, that you trust blindly, the one you want to share the highlights and the deep valleys of your life with. For Meredith and Christina, they are each other’s ‘person’.

our person

Do you have a ‘person’? Do you have a best friend you can share everything with, including the not so pretty details of your life and your ministry?

Youth ministry can be very lonely and you need friends to pull you through when times get tough. You need a person.

If you don’t have one, invest in a friendship that has the potential to become special. Find someone you have that ‘click’ with and prioritize that friendship to it can and will grow. Also, don’t forget to put this at the top of your prayer list. Praying for good friends may seem kind of silly, but I know from experience it’s a prayer that God wants to answer.

I don’t regret moving to Germany with my family three years ago and I don’t regret packing up again now that we have the opportunity to move to upstate New York. But I do regret some of the costs, including friendships. I’ve lost my ‘persons’ and I do regret that. I’ve gotten kind of lonely, so I will be following my own advice and prayerfully find me some new friends. I need a ‘person’!

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Kick Yourself Off Youth Ministry Island

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When my rowboat finally hit land, I loved what I saw. Palm trees, coconuts, crystal-clear water…perfection. Everything was mine. I was in charge. I’d made it. For years, I’d wandered at sea, but this paradise quickly erased the pains of the journey. I found shelter, gathered food, and swam. It was incredible…for a while.

Let me back up. For a long time, I cared about the whole church. I was “all in,” wearing every hat on the giant ship. Being an all-around crew member rather than just the activities director was exhausting. I performed multiple tasks on every deck. More than once, I wanted to toss a few people overboard.

One day, I snuck away on a little rowboat to find dry land. I was free to do my own thing—to build the youth ministry and nothing else. It was oddly exhilarating to work with teenagers, not caring if they ended up at my church or not. (After all, if the church weren’t paying me, I probably wouldn’t even go there.)

If you’ve ever been to Youth Ministry Island, you know it quickly loses its luster. The place pulls an awful bait-and-switch, and here’s what remains:

Loneliness—The excitement upon arrival is intoxicating, yet over time you feel isolated. While fighting the elements, you realize survival would be more possible if you were part of a crew.
Invisibility—Being off the radar seems like a win initially. Then you notice you’re left out of celebrations. You realize your freedom has come at the expense of team. Longevity, after all, is birthed from being part of a much greater whole.
Martyrdom—To top it off, you feel like a victim. “I’m the one who should be getting credit,” you think. “Everyone else is out to get me.” Paranoia wins because you’re alone and invisible.

As fall approaches, what boat will you be on? If you’re alone, invisible, or playing the martyr, you may have set sail for Youth Ministry Island. Take these steps now to get back aboard the big ship:
• Care about the whole church and speak highly of it.
• Support the senior pastor and leadership.
• Offer to assist with “out of your area” opportunities.
• Help design a church that welcomes back graduating students.

Good youth ministry isn’t just about caring for teenagers. Find passion for everything God is doing so you don’t get stranded on Youth Ministry Island.

Youth Ministry Island by Josh Griffin originally appeared in the July/August issue of Group Magazine where he is a regular contributor for his “In the Trenches” column.

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10 ideas to help with ministry discouragement


When you say yes to ministry, you also say yes to periods of discouragement. Here are some harsh realities:

• Discouragement is painful.
• Discouragement is untimely.
• Discouragement is lonely.

Be confident that you’re not alone in your hurt (see yesterday’s comments).

Here are 10 ways that you might battle the occasional seasons of discouragement:

1. Find an experienced, but neutral, mentor who will listen to you. My encouragement is to make sure this person is outside your church so your conversation isn’t divisive.

2. Seek to spend time with an upbeat friend who is outside of your youth ministry. The benefit of an upbeat friend is that being with a friend who doesn’t really care about your ministry, but cares about you, can be very refreshing.

3. Realize that not everyone will understand you and your ministry. Actually, it’s fairly safe to state that no one will value your ministry as much as you. Perspective can be insightful.

4. Take a day off. A real day off…a day off of email, a day away from the ministry, a day of rest.

5. Schedule solo time away. Once a quarter take an entire day with your journal and Bible and get away. Solitude can really help.

6. Clear the piles on your desk. Piles can be depressing! Shove everything into a box and deal with it later. A clean desk can make a difference in your attitude.

7. Get some sleep. Even if you don’t think you need more sleep, get some any way.

8. Start in a discouragement journal. Write your thoughts out. Write out the discouragement journey from A-Z. It’s amazing when you look back and see God taking you thru a discouraging season and it will happen again.

9. Begin an affirmation file. Save the “keepers”… read them when necessary. Being reminded that you’re not hated and/or a loser can help.

10. Pray! You’re not the first leader to bend the ear of God.

Thankfully there is hope in the midst of discouragement, and because the God of the universe is involved, it’s plentiful. Light is out there for the discouraged.

Don’t loose sight of the eternal Light in the midst of the temporary darkness. When discouragement hits you, count on the reality that God will use that season in your life to increase your ministry effectiveness (God doesn’t waste a hurt).

There’s my 10 ideas…please add to the list! Next week I’ll post all your ideas from yesterday and today. I’m anxious to learn from your ideas!

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LEADERSHIP LESSON FROM THE STREETS OF NEW YORK CITY

Yesterday I spent the day walking around NYC with my wife and some friends. I don’t get stunned very easily and I was stunned with the movement, the diversity, the commerce, the… well, just about everything in/around the city. I’ve been to NYC several times and it always forces reflection.

This image got me thinking of the loneliness of leadership:

No human in the world cares more about this guy’s food service than he does. That truth describes a lot about leadership and ministry.

• No human cares more about your vision than you.
• No human cares more about your message prep than you.
• No human cares more about the success of your program than you.
• No human cares more about your volunteer recruitment, your salary, your non-salary, your busyness, your desire to be nurtured, your struggle for resources, your [insert need here].

That’s why being a leader is often a lonely spot… because others just don’t care as much as you do (especially, if you are the leader of other leaders).

There’s a lot of movement and activity and focus swirling around leaders and it’s so refreshing and rewarding when someone stops and says, “I want what you’re trying to sell ” and then proves it with their passion and actions.

What’s an area of your leadership where you feel all alone?

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