By Charlie Stevens
I want to be “Barry”!!!! I have a game on my I-pad that is called “Jetpack Joyride” and the ultimate level for me right now is to reach the status of “Barry”. Amazingly enough I am not happy with the fact that I am already at the level of pro, superhero, and ninja, but that elusive “Barry” level is keeping me down. If I can just make 50 transitions in the gravity suit in one run, I will be there.
Youth Ministry for me has been a life long journey trying to be “Barry”. I always wanted the next level. I know you are probably thinking that is the wrong idea, and it is, but nonetheless it is where I was. Key word “WAS”!!!! How many of us out there are trying to reach the level of “Barry”? If we are honest most of us have tried to do ministry as a career and always looked for what was the next level. Here is how the next level thinking is flawed:
Miss God. If we are always trying to achieve the next level in youth ministry we miss what God is doing with you here and now. I was a youth minister at one church and when the “Big” church called I was ready to pounce. I accepted the Big church position and was not familiar with the ins and outs of how mega church operates, so working at the BIG church did not work for me. God taught me a valuable lesson in that transition, which shifted my “next level” thinking. God has great things for me here and now, and if I am not paying attention, I can easily miss what God is really wanting. When I made the shift of not worrying about the next level, I gained a new understanding of how to reach teenagers. It was an awesome shift that taught me who God is and the power that he has put into the generation of youth.
Career Focused. When we are career focused, youth ministry becomes what we do, not who we are. I am a youth minister; I do not do youth ministry and that is a huge distinction for me. You see if all youth ministry is what I do, then there is no passion and desire for me. Ministries becomes a job, and face it, jobs aren’t fun. Jobs can be done by rote memory. When youth ministry was my job, my creativity was flat. Everything we did I could do in my sleep. The challenge was gone. Effective and loving youth ministry cannot be done without a passion and love for reaching people with the story of Jesus Christ.
My whole idea is that we cannot be effective in youth ministry if we are constantly seeking the next level. God has you where you are for a time, and he will allow that time to come. We will not all reach the level of “Barry”, but we will all reach the level of “good and faithful servant”.
I have been in youth ministry for 13 years. Currently at FUMC Carlsbad, NM. I am married to the most wonderful, patient, beautiful, woman ever (Autumn). I have two children (10 and 12) and one dog. When not doing youth ministry I will be with my family. Attempting to start my own web page www.youthministrynetwork.net