Archive - January, 2012

3 Healthy Ways to Start Your New Year in Ministry: Part 3

In my previous post I talked about the importance of throwing off the things that are hindering our lives and ministries. So often we fall back to the familiar instead of stepping back to survey what needs to change. It’s easy to depend on familiar programs, systems, or self reliance instead of depending on God to clearly direct.

Today, I want to continue to look at Hebrews 12: 1 as we look at the intense and challenging issues of being entangled by sin in our lives and ministries.

We Are All But One Step Away From A Fall: “…and the sin that so easily entangles” Hebrews 12:1

A True and Painful Story: A number of years ago, I remember walking across the parking lot into the church where I was the youth pastor. It was the day I was scheduled to preach, but it wouldn’t be any typical sermon… The Sunday before, we had announced to the church that our senior pastor had been forced to resign because he had committed adultery. It was tragic and horrendous for so many people who loved him, his family, and loved their church…  My sermon would be the first sermon following this deeply painful announcement… If I am honest, as I walked across the parking lot into the church, I was angered by this man and what he had done to so many people… It was at that point that God spoke to my heart very clearly. Instead of casting judgment, God show me how all of us in ministry are but one step away from becoming entangled by sin that will lead to destruction and pain.

Be Honest: Therefore, as we make our way into the new year, we should take an honest look at the repeat sins in our lives that have begun to entangle us. It’s crucial that we get help now, not later. It’s paramount that intentionally seek God and spend time with Him to find freedom from being entangled by sin… I have never met anyone in ministry who intentional wanted to fall to a moral failure or lose their position because of poor choices. However, I do know that sin can creep in very quickly and will easily entangle us if we are not careful…

Here’s three questions we should be asking: 

1) What sin is at work in our lives that will entangle us and eventually destroy our family and ministries?

2) Are we running from God or are we coming to Him honestly and openly with our struggles? We all preach it to students, but when was the last time we fell into the arms of our Savior in confession and repentance?

3) Who can help us and and hold us accountable in areas of struggle?

4) What spiritual habits need our attention to help release us from being entangled and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus?

What else would you add? What wisdom have you gleaned in these situations? What hope can you offer? Please feel free to comment. Let’s help each other.

Phil <><

 

3 Healthy Ways to Start Your New Year in Ministry: Part 2

In my previous post I shared some insights from Hebrews 12 and the importance of realizing we are not alone in ministry. Often ministry can feel like we are isolated and it feels impossible to hang in for the long-term. Realizing the countless ministry heroes who have gone before us, as well as seeking out the veterans of today, goes a long way to help us stay encouraged when we have “those days.”

Today, I want to focus on a second healthy way to start out the new year in ministry:

Get Rid of Excess Baggage:  let us throw off everything that hinders… Hebrews 12:1

The Complex and Absurd of Ministry: One of the greatest challenges I see for youth workers is the natural tendency to allow our lives and ministry to be overly complex and absurdly busy. Many youth workers wear this badge with pride, and I have often been one of those people. However, as time goes by, I am seeing the foolishness in chasing after every opportunity and every latest trend.

The Hebrew Christians had begun to move away from their dependence on God’s grace through Jesus and had become increasingly focused on Jewish rituals, traditions, and backsliding to old habits. In many ways, I see a similar principle played out in ministry, and it is to the detriment of our personal walk with God, and ultimately the shepherding of students… We often depend too much on traditions, familiar ways, and our personal dependence on ourselves…

Here’s what I am considering this new year: 

Dependence on Programs, Systems, and Self! It’s easy to focus more on a program or system, than the power of God and His wisdom to guide us… It’s easy to get stuck in traditions and familiar ways of doing ministry instead of seeking God’s immediate best… It’s easy to depend on our own skills, work longer hours and become driven by certain results… In the long-term, they can squeeze out our dependence on God and His specific focus for our ministry… How much is my ministry defined by traditions, familiarity, and systems, rather than stepping back to seek God’s leading? 

Before you rush in to 2012 and fall back to the familiar, take some time to step back to survey what needs to be thrown out…

What are some of the things that are hindering you and your ministry?

Phil <><


3 Healthy Ways to Start Your New Year in Ministry: Part 1

Happy New Year to you! I hope you have made a good start to your new year so far. As we enter into the 2012, I wanted to share 3 healthy ways to begin this new year. Recently, I have been reading through Hebrews and I have found some good reminders to help me (and you) stay healthy. Although, these healthy ways might be familiar to us, it’s always good to have reminders…

Realize you’re not alone: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses… Hebrews 12:1a (NIV)

Many Have Gone Before Us: The context of this verse is referring to the martyrs who had gone before and were deemed to be heroes of the faith. Ministry is not a new thing and there are countless lives who bear witness to God’s faithfulness and His ability to work through the lives of ordinary people. There is hope that we can look forward to God using us in our good, bad, and indifferent times of ministry. The key is this: Do you want to be used to make a difference? If the answer is “yes”, we can be confident that God will do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine when His power works through us…

Many Are Making An Impact Today: Not only have countless people gone before us and survived, we have many more ahead of us who are still doing brilliant in youth ministry. With stories of moral failure and challenging situations, it’s easy to focus on the negative.  However, we often fail to celebrate the incredible victories of those who are wildly passionate for their ministries and being used by God in powerful ways. I am blessed to know many veterans in ministry who are a great encouragement to me. They help me realize how God will work through me just as He has for them. Yes, there are many challenging stories too, but it’s imperative to have a long-term view and see how God is using others to make an eternal impact in ministry. Who are the veteran youth workers in your life who encourage and challenge you to stay the course? 

“Yes, but I am not one of those guys / gals!” - We might not be just like a veteran we look up to, but have you taken time lately to get alongside a veteran youth worker and ask them honest questions about their struggles, hurts, and failings? Have you heard their stories of hitting rock bottom and then seeing God pick them up and achieve great outcomes? Have you spent time discovering their authenticity and understanding how “normal” they are. So often we play the comparison game and think that God only uses “those” kinds of people. How are you taking time to get to know the authentic stories of veteran youth workers in your life? 

Often ministry can feel like we are isolated and it feels impossible to hang in for the long-term. Realizing the countless ministry heroes who have gone before us, as well as seeking out the veterans of today, goes a long way to help us stay encouraged when we have “those days.”

Phil <><

Page 2 of 2«12