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Avoiding Youth Ministry Burnout

“Over commitment will lead to a lack of commitment! Know the difference between what you are called to, not what you are pulled to…”

No one enters youth ministry ever expecting to burnout, breakdown, or lose their passion. However, in my years of youth ministry I have heard too many stories of great youth workers who left ministry all together because of burnout…

Youth Ministry Burnout

There are many reasons why you and I could burnout, but it usually starts when we try to do everything for everyone with only our strength. Before we know it, we are working unhealthy hours, our walk with God is shallow, and our family are getting the left overs. But, how can we avoid this? Here’s a starting place:

Know the difference between what you are called to, not what you are pulled to.

(I saw this quote a few weeks ago. I wish I could tell you who said it, but I have no idea. However, it stuck in my brain so much that I have not been able to get away from it).

The bottom line is this: When you and I can have a healthy walk with God, we will hear His voice and He will lead us to what we are called to. From here we can:

  • Discern what God is calling us to do
  • Know the difference between a good opportunity and a God opportunity
  • Have the confidence to say “no” to the things that we are pulled to
  • Have the clarity to be able to communicate our vision to others
  • Have the time to spend with God and our families
  • Find peace in God’s plans even when storms rage around us.

You see, there are a number of reasons for burnout in youth ministry, but personally, I believe it begins with an unhealthy expectation that we say “yes” to everything, (and then in our own strength, try to do everything). Instead, we should begin with a strong relationship with God that continuously seeks His purpose and vision.

There are many other ways in which you and I can be pulled into burnout, but this is what I have observed in the last few years.

How are you avoiding burnout? Do you have time to hear God’s voice in your life? Do you know what you are called to for the long and short haul?

Phil <><

photo credit: via

Youth Ministry Management: How to Keep Great Volunteers – Part 2

In my previous post I provided five ways to keep great volunteers in my youth ministries over the years. Having a great team of volunteer youth leaders is essential to the health of any youth ministry. There are no more ‘lone rangers’ in youth ministry and it’s important that we maintain a ‘wide bandwidth’ of volunteers to reach the different kinds of students we have in our churches and communities.

Volunteer Youth Worker

Here are five more ways that have been effective in investing and keeping great volunteers:  Continue Reading…

Youth Ministry Management: How To Start Your Week Strong

Yesterday, (Sunday), I saw a quote by fellow Brit Marcus Buckingham:

“What are some steps you can take today or first thing tomorrow morning to set yourself up for a strong week?”

For many of us in youth ministry, being organized and disciplined in administration does not come naturally. However, there is one thing I have found most youth workers can do that will make a huge difference to their week. Simply taking an hour at the beginning of the week to plan and prioritize can make all the difference and help us stay more focused.

Starting right in Youth Ministry

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How To Navigate The Crazy Seasons of Youth Ministry

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know it’s been slightly quieter than normal in the last few weeks. I’m sorry if you have missed your regular 2-3 posts per week, but there’s been a lot going on in life and ministry… In the last 7 weeks I have:

  • Finished my Masters Degree!
  • Attended the FAM Leadership Network through
  • Travelled back to the UK for two weeks to visit my mom who has Alzheimer’s
  • Taken a team on a relief mission trip to New Jersey for Hurricane Sandy clean up
  • Begun a transition in my current church ministry

Youth Ministry Navigation

I’ll be honest, this is not the norm, but it has certainly been an interesting few months… We all have crazy seasons and sometimes things happen outside of our control. During these times, it’s imperative that we have developed healthy defaults in our lives that help us navigate through such crazy times. I have no idea what a crazy season looks like for you, but I know that youth ministry is full of such times. Here are four healthy defaults I implore you to maintain before you get to the crazy seasons of ministry: Continue Reading…

Six Reflections From My Trip Back To England

Yesterday, I returned from a twelve day trip back to England to visit my family and friends. We took the whole family to see my mom who is failing in health with stage 5 Alzheimer’s. (Maybe I will blog about this trip another time…)

To be honest, I did not think too much about ministry while I was gone since it was a busy trip. However, I always find that being away gives me a good time to reflect on the areas on my life I would like to give greater emphasis and commitment to.



Here are six areas of my life I reflected on while I was away. I believe they will continue to help me build a healthy foundation as a pastor: Continue Reading…

Youth Ministry & The Art of Running the Race…

A couple of months ago the ministry I work for decided to use the NJ Long Branch Marathon as a fundraiser.  At first I didn’t think much of it.  I’m not a runner.  As a matter of fact I am an asthmatic who is beyond athletically challenged.  This race was for my husband to complete, look at him,  he is built like a runner.   Then our office needed someone to step up and be part of a two person half-marathon relay.  This would mean an almost 7 mile “race.”  Can we revisit that I AM NOT A RUNNER?  Yes, you’re already there I had to start training.

marathon youth ministry

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A Key to Getting Things Done: Do Less!

There’s always more to do in youth ministry isn’t there? Today I was reminded of a principle that I had learned a long time ago…But it was clear today that I had completely forgotten it:

Getting stuff done always takes longer than you think… Therefore, schedule less.

Youth Ministry To Do List

I know that reading the above statement could make you say, “Well duh, that’s obvious!” I am with you. It should be so completely obvious. But, when push comes to shove, if you are anything like me, I love to pack in as much as I can in my ministry day. I am ever the optimist of what I can get done and what can be accomplished by days end. Continue Reading…

Healthy You – Healthy Youth Ministry! Part 3 – How To Create And Sustain Healthy Habits

In our previous post, Scott Tinman shared how he has moved from being a youth ministry couch potato to someone who is running EVERY day for close to 10 months. Today Scott wraps up our series as he shares practical advice on how you and I can create workout habits that are sustainable. There’s some great advice in this post! Read on!

Youth Ministry Health

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Healthy You – Healthy Youth Ministry! Part 2 – An Interview with Scott Tinman

Whether we like it or not, our productivity, and ultimately our mental and spiritual health are so closely tied to our physical health. If we can improve our health, we can expect our ministries to improve too. Today we talk to youth ministry veteran Scott Tinman about his radical life change.

Marathon Youth Ministry Continue Reading…

Healthy You – Healthy Youth Ministry! Part 1 – You Look Hungry [Video Post]

This week before we head off to SYMC in Indy, we jump into a three part series on the importance of physical health and the impact on our youth ministry. When we are healthy physically, it helps us mentally,  spiritually, and emotionally. Our energy levels increase, our bodies feel better for it, and we feel like we are making good steps forward.

Whether we like this idea or not, it is reality for all of us: Our physical health will impact our ministry health.

Recently ran an article on my friend and fellow YouthworkTalk contributor Darren Sutton. In an incredibly authentic and vulnerable interview, Darren reveals challenges with weight gain and the challenge to get healthy.


Can you relate to Darren? What steps are you taking to ensure your health is a priority? What tips can you share to others who are looking to make their health a priority? 

Phil <><

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