Several years ago, I learned a lesson. It’s a valuable lesson, and like most of the good lessons, I sometimes have to re-learn it. So, in hopes of learning as much as teaching, I will share that lesson with you, so maybe one day you can remind me when I need to hear it.
One of your greatest resources is other youth pastors/ministers/workers. They are a form of beta testing for new ideas and programs, they are a different avenue to the same goal, they are a new style of teaching and leading. I know all of these things, and I believe all of these things. But, the lesson I forget from time to time, is to listen.
No more one-uppers. I am proud of all the activities and events my group hosts. We work hard as a ministry to keep things fresh, engaging and fun. We invent games and try new things constantly, so that we are ever changing, improving and adapting. Because of this, on occasion, when other youth workers are talking to me about their programs, ministries and events, I find myself waiting to tell them about our awesome events and programs instead of listening. I would say I suspect I am not alone in this, but I’ve been to youth workers’ trainings and conferences, so I know I’m not alone.
No more one-uppers. Every time someone tells you about an event they’ve done, listen. Ask questions. Make mental notes. Heck, make actual notes. Youth ministry isn’t trademarked, nor is it a competition. Fundraisers, youth events, retreats, trips…yes, we all do it the best in the world, obviously, but that doesn’t mean we can’t improve. The best way I’ve found is shutting my big mouth and listening to the youth workers around me.
No more one-uppers. Is my ministry the biggest in the world? No way. Am I the best person in the world in my position? Probably not. So when you hear me tell you that we all, as a profession, need to listen more, know that I am including myself in that statement. Take what you hear and adapt; be creative. Ask what could have been better, what the challenges were, what they’d do differently next time. Ask why they decided to do the event/trip/program in the first place. Use these answers to create a mental note so that you can use that information in the future. If you ask those questions. even a horribly unsuccessful event or program can be useful information to you. My most successful event came to being after hearing a director talk about trying the event and failing miserably. I listened, learned, got creative and viola! A star was born. Even now, I try to listen to other’s who do similar events to constantly be refining.
No more one-uppers. I’m serious. Let’s take a stand against hubris and be iron sharpening iron, instead of a bunch of workers that are just waiting for their turn to tell everyone how much better their ministries are.