How To Win In Small Ways

I know I’m not going to get much to any sympathy but I was sad to see my Yankees lose in the ALCS; however, I’m happy that Texas (who has never been) made it to the World Series.  And maybe I’ve lost all my readers after that first sentence, but one thought that came to mind after their loss, was how unappreciative sports fans can be of the journey.  We’re upset that our team didn’t win; however, we forget about all the great games, all the small wins, all the amazing moments (in baseball there is a lot) that make us realize why we love the sport.  It’s one of the reasons that I love March Madness’ One Shining Moment because it recaps the road to the Final Four.  Sometimes we forget the high lights, we forget those moments that make what we love so enjoyable.
In student ministry we don’t have championships; however, I think we focus onto certain accomplishments and recognition to fulfill that need. I’m not sure where it comes from, maybe we’re a little jealous of other youth ministries (I’ve been jealous), maybe it’s the fact that we don’t feel appreciated all the time and it makes sense because we want to know that what we does has value…I think it’s probably because we are looking at ministry through the wrong lenses.  I know we all want to have greatness.  But greatness doesn’t always come from the “Big Wins” it comes from small ones too like these:

  • When A Teen Brings A Friend:  Apparently you’ve created an environment that’s comfortable for a teenager to invite their friend.  I think we underestimate the pressure of inviting someone (even a lifelong friend) to do something new.  In fact we don’t know if this has happened over multiple conversations, or if the student was compelled by something in your message where they thought, “I have to tell my friend about this.”  It’s a huge win because you are growing God’s church.
  • When A Teen Acts As You Say:  It might feel like they aren’t listening, it might feel like they are ignoring you and I don’t know how to disprove your feelings; however, there is nothing better than when you see or hear about a teen who does something because of what the ministry is teaching.  It’s amazing because you actually realize that you have an impact.
  • When A Parent Becomes An Advocate:  You might feel as if they’re your largest obstacle, but in reality they need to be your largest advocate.  There have been times where I didn’t realize the impact that I had on a teenager only to find months, even years later that something our ministry did changed lives.  When you go from seeing your parents as opponents to advocates you know that you are truly partnering with them.
  • When A Minister Takes Ownership: We hope for the day that we can get more help we just don’t know how.  Then out of the blue one of your minister lives out the ministry’s mission, calls you up to check-in, calls you out in order to keep you accountable, basically your ministers become your team and not your employee.  I’m going to brag right here because this is where I’ve seen the most success in our ministry and it’s not due to my efforts alone.  I have great ministry leaders who have nurtured and challenged their ministers to step up and take the reigns.

I could go on and on and on about the accomplishments, wins and successes that we can witness in student ministry.  In fact it can become contagious and probably should.  I know we want to see our numbers grow, I know we want other youth ministers to notice us, I know we want to be “that church” that all the teens flock to on a Sunday night…but it really isn’t all about that.  It’s about that one student, that one parent, that one minister and encouraging them to travel on that one journey God has us on.  I know there isn’t a World Series of Youth Ministry to validate our success and that’s because there is so much more.  But in the end, how we win is life change, in the end it isn’t about how are you making the program exciting or how are you growing numbers, it’s about how are you facilitating life change.
I want to encourage you all to take some time on this blog to share wins that you’ve seen in your ministry over the last week, month, or couple of years.