Don’t Over Stretch

Courtesy of David W. Siu/Creative Commons License 

I’m not a fan of stretching because I look so awkward doing it.  For all the exercise I do I’m just not that flexible, so I look like a guy who isn’t really trying hard; yet, is in pain.  And because I don’t like how I look when I stretch (please don’t try to picture it), I don’t do it too often when I’m at the gym or in public.  This is a problem, because when I don’t stretch I risk injury.  It’s a self conscience decision to avoid flexibility, which sounds a little funny.
We need flexibility.  It allows us to move with life’s punches, overcome last minute changes and live out plan B when plan A doesn’t pan out.  But, can you be too flexible?  Is there a limit?  Sometimes as youth ministers we act as if we are limitless when in reality we stretch ourselves out too far.  You might not even know that you’ve overstretched, especially in these areas:

  • Programs – You think, “The more I do and the more I offer for teens, the more successful I will be.”  When in reality if you offer too much you create competing systems where you’ll force teens to choose one program or event over another.  When you offer too much you can create analysis paralysis.  When people have too many decisions they’ll end up just not making any.
  • Schedule – 24 hours in a day is never enough for you.  You tell people you work 45 hours to 50; however, the reality is more like 70.  If you are married you are jeopardizing time at home, you’ve made it known that work is more important.  Even if you are single you need to give yourself ample time for rest, socialization (outside of the job) and enjoy a Sabbath (or schedule a little me time).  Over stretching in our schedules is a lack of organization and prioritization with our time.  
  • Responsibilities Chances are you’ll never hear anyone complain, “I have too many ministers.”  But if you  had more than you do now, would you know what to do with them all?  If you are a youth minister you are responsible for your overall ministry; however, you should not oversee every responsibility.  If you want your ministry to grow you need to delegate the responsibilities instead of stretching yourself to own them all.

Being diverse, flexible and open are all positive attributes of a leader.  But, being overstretched can lead to burn out and exhaustion.  What every youth minister needs to do is Narrow The Focus.  To do that you need to ask:

  • What is it that I do best?
  • What are my limits?
  • What is our vision and what’s the most direct way there?

When you can answer those questions it’ll help you see what YOU have to do as point person, where you need to delegate and when you should say, “No“.

In what areas are you over stretched? How do you prevent yourself from over stretching?