10.7 MINISTRY IS LIKE Mountain Biking – Sabbath

As I have been learning how to be more of a serious mountain biker on legitimately challenging trails in the Ozarks, I have noticed many situations that have principles similar to what would be applicable in ministry. This series highlights some of the things I am learning along the way.

When the weather is right, even a casual mountain biker can get almost addicted to to riding.  What does this look like? The trails are dry, but not dusty. The weather is warm but not hot.  The sun is shining, and continues to for days.  These are almost perfect conditions.  It’s so much fun that you want to ride daily.  You might try and squeeze in a ride before work or over the lunch hour.  You might even figure out a way to get others to go with you while you put off some other tasks that probably need to be done.  It’s similar to any addiction in it’s early stages.  You don’t think you need it, but it’s becoming a near non-negotiable activity in your life.

A friend of mine shared that last fall he had gone mountain biking daily for nearly two weeks, and his body started feeling constantly tired and achy. Tom owns his own business and though he works very hard, he has the ability to tweek his schuedule to allow for mountain biking at prime times. So he did.  Over and over, day after day.  He couldn’t wait to go ride again, and continue to experience the breeze and the thrill of catapulting down the side of a mountain while you steer carefully to protect your life.

One day he realized something, his body needed rest.  It was tired and hurting. His muscles and back were aching far more than usual, and not getting better.  So, on a day with perfect riding conditions when he didn’t need to be working, he stayed home instead.  He may have taken a nap or tooled around the house.  I remember him using the word “restored” to describe how much better his body felt afterwards.  He gave it a sabbath. The result that he was able to start riding again the next day, and enjoyed it even more.

As ministry leaders, we usually love the bulk of our job duties.  So much so that in many cases we are working far above and beyond what might be expected in a secular job where hourly wages or total sales are calculated.  Yet sometimes, we can be just like Tom and his mountain biking.  We enjoy serving Jesus so much that we are guilty of not giving our minds (and bodies in many cases) a break from the grind.  We know better, but we sometimes don’t acknowledge our need to stop and sabbath too.

There is a big difference between leisure and sabbath.  When you take days off from ministry work, make sure you don’t fill all of them with busy leisure activities. To rest, one must slow their pace.  By taking a true day of sabbath each week, you will likely be a better leader, spouse, and parent.

Make sure you make time to take a sabbath each week, and rest.

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NNYM #3 TIPS TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS in your local network

2 TIPS TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS in your local network.

Networks that flourish and thrive will typically need to overcome a couple of simple yet significant issues that go beyond geographical or denominational differences. Without fail, youth leaders are are busy people. They have duties to perform, people to see, and tasks to add to their calendar. When they show up for a network meeting, their focus and reasons for being there can vary. Every youth leader can benefit from building stronger relationships with other area youth leaders. However it is not going to be the result of Facebook interactions or sitting in the same room talking about the weather. It takes intentionally moving towards deeper discussions.
Here are a couple of “self-focus” issues to overcome in order to build depth into your network member’s relationships:

1. Overcome being too self-focused to personally care. One tip to make sure that a network stays connected relationally, is to STOP the idle chitchat. Early in a network meeting, before other agendas are announced, take time to share with each other, care for each other, and pray for each other. This does not need to take a long time. Break up into groups of only 2-3 people. It will bless everyone involved. Challenge all to briefly share a burden and share a blessing in their life, and then for the person sitting next to them to briefly pray for them and about what they shared immediately. It only takes 5 or 10 minutes max, and everyone benefits. A possible follow-up is to ask the leaders to follow-up with each other’s prayer requests within the next week. A quick note or message to remind each other that you are praying can be significant.
2. Overcome being too self-focused to work together. Another tip is to help network members take the focus off of their personal ministry and onto sometimes doing ministry together. Establishing common ground can be a bit of a process, but chances are high that you and the other youth leaders in your community have more in common than not. Finding needs that should be met in the community could potentially lead to sharing some ministry events that fit many ministries vision and planning needs. In fact, this can be an opportunity of focused corporate prayer that can lead to a great amount of unity and shared inertia of activity, furthering unifying the body of Christ. Along they way, relationships among the leaders in the network will be strongly enhanced as a healthy byproduct of time spent serving Christ. It’s a win-win because local needs get met while youth leaders from different ministries collaborate together!

Building relationships can happen on purpose, but that is less likely then it happening almost on accident as you go. Using these tips to help remove “self-focus” can help you to do both while you work together to further the kingdom of God. It takes a little bit of intentionality, but the benefit is beyond measure.

NNYM #8 A WILLINGNESS TO MINISTER TO YOUTH FOR A LIFETIME.

NNYM #8 A WILLINGNESS TO MINISTER TO YOUTH FOR A LIFETIME.

Twenty years ago I was already experienced in youth ministry, both as a volunteer and vocationally after having served at a couple of Christian Camps & as a youth director at a local church. However, I had initially started college with the intent of getting a “real job,” and had focused my studies towards a eventually obtaining a law degree.
Yet, in the spring and for nearly 6 months following, it felt like my mind and heart was cooking in a microwave where God was nuking much of my adolescent immaturity away. I began to mature and realize that I was going to be different from many of my peers who were in school.  By that fall I had transferred to John Brown University with a clear purpose of getting my undergraduate degree in Youth Ministries & Camping Ministries. I felt called to youth ministry, and began to stop taking my gifts for granted. Yet I also knew I was naive and needed formal education, because the Spirit’s leading was a long-term life directional call to action which also needed more information!
Over the next few years I was repeatedly surprised to find some of the other youth ministry majors (who were also hoping to get a job as a youth pastor some day), see youth ministry primarily as a stepping stone to a longer or more lucrative ministry career. I love & stay in contact with many of those friends to this day. However, my theory is that the reason many of them are no longer in any ministry, including youth ministry, is because they never took it seriously enough.
Youth Ministry is more than feeling, and more than a wise-career choices.  I love when I see a leader who is impassioned for it.  Are you called to youth ministry? I mean honestly focused, and called, to be serving youth? Has God put a burden on your heart that makes serving Him through serving youth a non-negotiable? Don’t get me wrong, I helped plant a church at one point. I’ve been “between-jobs.” Yet a call to serve in youth ministry is a high and Holy calling that gets beyond who/what is paying your bills.  If you are the type of person called do youth ministry, you will do it even when you aren’t being paid for it.
Life can throw curve balls.  Churches fire youth pastors.  Youth Pastors sometimes need to sometimes work in a different vocation to support their ministry habit (er…I mean calling!).  But I believe that the men and women of God whom are committed to bringing youth  to His throne,  are leaving behind an eternal legacy that makes most other things in this world pale.  I have made a commitment and agreed to a covenenant to the end.  Will you join me?  http://www.youthworkers.net/index.cfm/fuseaction/memberjoin.step1

 

10.6 MINISTRY IS LIKE Mountain Biking – Onboard Gear

As I have been learning how to be more of a serious mountain biker on legitimately challenging trails in the Ozarks, I have noticed many situations that have principles similar to what would be applicable in ministry. This series highlights some of the things I am learning along the way.

I’ve learned the easy way from listening to advice, and sometimes I’ve learned the hard way by mistakes. One thing I’ve picked up along the way though, is that what you have onboard your bike is very important. Two things in particular have leadership analogies that are appropriate:

Air Pump – Guess what!? Tires have air in them. Not surprising perhaps, but what can be surprising is how suddenly they can start losing air. A lightweight pump that attaches to your bike is an affordable way of preparing for keeping your tires firm if you lose some pressure while on a ride.
In the same way, leaders need to be filled with the spirit of God. In 1 Thessalonians 1, the exhortation is 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Though this applies to all of us, leaders are just as likely to stop walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. An old professor of mine once equated our hearts and minds to colanders when it comes to the Holy Spirit. Though we can be filled with the Holy Spirit, the rhythm of life can cause a slow trickle which eventually leads us to living out of the flesh. By remaining in dependent prayer throughout our days, we can avoid the sin which so easily comes when we are deflated.

Hydration – A simple thing like a water bottle (or one of those fancy-schmancy camel type backpacks with a tube straw) can enable you to drink as you go. When riding it’s easy to realize that your muscles or lungs are burning. But for some people, they can forget to replace their fluids if their mouth isn’t thirsty. One might not feel dehydrated until after it has already become a serious problem. Keeping fluids on hand and part of a normal riding routine is a non-negotiable in overcoming fatigue & potential exhaustion.

Similarly, it’s a well know issue that many Christian leaders can read their Bible frequently for their vocation, but forget to do it for personal edification. Most leaders always have a cell phone with them, which can be convenient to stay in the Word. Reminders and or alarms on their smart phones help keep them on track with personal daily devotions. I count myself among those who can honestly say that I read my Bible more than ever, and can partially attribute that to using the YouVersion Bible App on my smart phone. It’s like a water bottle for my head, heart, and soul. I always have it with me, and am likely to use it for replenishment.

By continuing the effort to pray without ceasing, and reading the Bible without a future sermon in mind, I am honoring God and keeping myself healthier spiritually. Like Mountain Biking, there are some things you should never leave for a ride without. In leadership, you should never stop praying, and never stop reading your Bible.

NNYM #4 PERSONAL HOLINESS

PERSONAL HOLINESS

A Consequence of a Slow Fade
by Aaron J. Babyar 2/24/12

Charlie* used to be a Youth Pastor, overseeing a ministry with hundreds of teens in regular attendance. At one point though, he dramatically failed at maintaining personal holiness.  Since then, he has sought the forgiveness of many.  He has also done extensive individual and marital counseling.  Though he is no longer an employee of a church, Charlie is now a volunteer that serves passionately while pouring into the lives of other men and business leaders at the church his family now attends. Additionally, he is active in a vibrant “Celebrate Recovery” group.  

His lack of personal holiness contributed to Charlie experiencing a publicly discussed moral failure. It broke the hearts of many. I remember seeing it on the news, and having people ask me about it for months afterwards.  

When we met up for lunch earlier this week, Charlie shared with me about some of the past events in his life that had led up to and surrounding that horrible time in his life.  Here is a partial summary of his poignant words: “I wasn’t doing well in seeking God on my own. I was dry spiritually. Then, my wife got sick, and that led to a loss of some intimacy in our marriage.  That made me mad at her.  That made me mad at God. That led to a further dryness and a loss of intimacy in my relationship with God.  That led me to searching for some sort of physical intimacy via personal ads on Craigslist.  That led to my arrest for soliciting a prostitute.” 

Zoom in on the first part of what he said.  Notice that the eventual public moral failure was shocking, yet it was only the end of what had been a long process.  Of course there is more to this story, but the beginning is the most importnat part. It first started with Charlie no longer seeking God on his own, and that primary relationship lacking intimacy. What happened to him could happen on some level to almost any leader.

Bible study. Prayer. Listening to the Lord.  These are things that leaders need to practice particularly when it’s not just for a sermon.  These are disciplines that for the most part faded away in Charlie’s personal life.   In fact, Charlie mentioned to me that he very strongly resonates with Casting Crowns song “Slow Fade.” 

I think Charlie is a great guy.  I dont’ believe he is permanently sidelined from ministry.  But he is someone who has experienced significant consequences from not maintaining a personal holiness within an intimate relationship with Christ.

As ministry leaders, we need to be mindful that we will be leading anything for long, if we cannot first maintain our personal intimacy with our Holy creator. His kingdom will advance, with or without you. It’s a high and holy calling to be in vocational or volunteer ministry. But your intimacy with Him will not exist, without your regular commitment to seek Him.

 

 

*actual name changed for this article

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&sqi=2&ved=0CCIQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DQASREBVDsLk&ei=58BHT9mFB4TX0QH93bD6DQ&usg=AFQjCNE8XRMsSjbcPBYMxbY4kHeo6A0A-A&sig2=nNtB2N17XOJ3LSrNs3ZBcQ

 

NNYM requests directory

In an effort to strengthen our online communication we are going to focus on two areas. The first area is around networking and our four priorities and the second is to emphasise the NNYM Covenant Bonds.

We are looking for stories from youth workers or local networks who are involved with any or all of the following topics:

  1. HOW PRAYING TOGETHER has shaped or changed your local network.
  2. STRATEGIES that your local network used to reach and empower young people.
  3. TIPS TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS in your local network.
  4. PERSONAL HOLINESS before God and others, which is established in Christ and expressed in daily life through prayer and commitment to the Word of God.
  5. AN EXEMPLARY HOME LIFE that is a source of renewal, and a godly model for others to follow.
  6. A LIFE OF DISCIPLESHIP which is reproducing an on-going chain of maturing believers.
  7. INVOLVEMENT IN EVANGELISM which helps expose every teenager to the gospel in a personal and culturally relevant way.
  8. A WILLINGNESS TO MINISTER TO YOUTH FOR A LIFETIME.
  9. A MINISTRY THAT IS A RESOURCE to other churches and organizations, cooperating for greater effectiveness in ministering to teenagers.

Our goal for 2012 is to have 3 posts per week that cover the topics above and to also include some strategy for local networks to be more effective in their meetings and efforts.

I’m Glad You Came

Many years ago I began to realize that God would sometimes speak to my heart through music. Much to the chagrin of my hyper conservative youth leaders, sometimes this music would even be “secular.” (gasp!) Obviously I’m taking the songs out of context as they were not originally penned with theologically affirming messages from Jesus in mind. But that doesn’t really matter.
This morning I had another one of those messages. It was simple, but profound. I almost missed it. In the noise that has been my family’s life lately, its been a little hard to listen, read, and hear. Even the one dedicated reader of my blog would say I have been a bit silent lately in writing anything but lament.
As I arrived at my destination the morning, a song came on the radio in perfect timing to the final approach up the long driveway, ending just as I was about to turn off the car. “I’m Glad You Came” by The Wanted. Without any plan of trying to live my life to a soundtrack today, I realized that God was speaking to me personally.
This occurrence happened to me only 15 minutes ago. I now am sitting in solitude in a prayer cottage nestled in among the trees in the Boston mountains of Northwest Arkansas. My goals today are pretty simple: Rest, Read, and Write. If that doesn’t sound profound, then your perspective of my life is underdeveloped. Suffice it to say, God has been sustaining me through some stormy times lately, and still is.
God has something for me today. I know it. In fact, this may be all of it (which would already be great in an of itself!), or there may be more encouragements or simple revelations. Regardless of what may or may not happen throughout the rest of the day, I’m glad to know that He is glad I’m here. I took time out from the difficulties life keeps throwing at me, and stayed true to keep this inconvenient appointment for solitude with Him. He’s glad I came! I’m glad I came.