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I’m at that stage of parenthood where I have to be careful what I’m saying. I’m not a cusser, I’m the type of guy that tries to say, “Sugar!” when I drop something or “Whoa!” after a close call. However, words like sheet or shirt have caused my two year old son to say something that isn’t appropriate for this family friendly blog (I try to keep things PG). On top of the words, I’ve noticed that he’s picked up on some of my actions. When he wants to do something nice for me he calls me into the living room, tells me to sit on the couch and hands me the remote…my son sees me as a couch potato.
As youth ministers we’re very aware of the fact that teenagers see what we do and hear what we say. And for the most part we’re careful not to lead them astray; but, it’s not just our students we need to be careful with but our ministers too.
You would think adults have the know how to reject what is negative and embrace what is positive; however, as leaders you can’t be too sure. Believe it or not as the leader you not only set the direction of your ministry but you create the environment as well. What we say and what we do has an impact on our ministers and just like a disease it can spread and destroy. So, what are some of the signs that your ministry may be negative? A negative ministry has:
- Self Centered Actions – A self centered attitude usually comes from a need for control. You want to control the outcome of an event or program and you want to control how others view you. When you take this control all that matters are your opinions, your thoughts and your ideas. A self centered ministry leads into a ministry built upon one person, which is contagious. And when you have multiple self centered ministers it can become negatively competitive because personalities will clash.
- Loose Commitment – If you get too comfortable in ministry you start playing with procrastination and take things for granted. When this happens you forget to set-up your ministers, you assume that they’ll show up and work at the same level as you. But, when you stop communicating people’s commitment becomes loose because they won’t see it as important or as a value. The things, ideas and relationships that are important to us are the ones we communicate the most.
- Dishonoring Leadership – If you publicly bash your pastor or a parent, then you can’t expect others to respect you. You might be justified in your feelings; however, there is a time and place to share your thoughts and in public is never one of them. Plus, if you build a reputation as someone who disregards authority, people are going to think it’s okay to publicly confront you. After all, you are setting the bar.
What we do and what we say is being seen and heard by many people. It can be a blessing to have that much influence; however, it can also be a burden. As youth ministers it’s hard to be perfect; however, our humanity shouldn’t be an excuse to be negative or apathetic. To turn attitudes we need to surrender ourselves to God’s grace and rely on others to hold us accountable. Next time you find yourself doing something negative as a leader, take a step back to look what’s in your heart.
What are the other signs of a negative ministry?