In a recent post on YouthworkTalk.com author Phil Bell has his co-contributors offer their thoughts on what youth ministry needs less of in 2013 (Read the post here). Contributor Darren Sutton suggested less whining:
Working in ministry is not the easiest – or most lucrative job on the planet. Surely we knew that going in. Occasionally we vent – and we all need to do that. But sometimes we also need to suck it up. We make sacrifices for this calling. If we allow those sacrifices to steal the joy of serving God in this high calling, it may be time to re-evaluate what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Has your venting turned into constant whining?
I couldn’t agree more with his comments; however, it made me wonder, “Why are we so prone to whining?” Some of our complaints are justified; however, many of them might be due to an oversensitive nature. It’s easy for you to be oversensitive because of the amount of work, energy and love you pour into your calling. So, how do you toughen up?
- Slow Your Response: When someone attacks your first instinct is to fight back or recoil. When a decision is made that affects you, you might want to fight it immediately. The best thing you can do in situations that greatly impact you is to hit the pause button. Think about what has just been said or done and consider that you might have taken it out of context. Before you shoot back with a comment or an email, make sure you have fully processed the situation.
- Tone Down The Pride: It’s not always about you. A decision might be made that seems like leadership is out to get you. A parent might take the frustration they have with their teen out on you. There will be times when you are affected by a decision or an emotion that has nothing to do with you. It’s in those times you need to understand it’s nothing personal. Remember the world doesn’t revolve around you.
- Kill Them With Kindness: Another way of holding back the claws when someone critiques or criticizes you is to simply thank them. Thank them for their opinion, their concern and give them a smile. It might seem contrite; however, it will show them that they are being heard. Sometimes that’s all people want is to be heard by you. Giving them a positive response will show them that.
- Use A Sounding Board: After you’ve listened, absorbed and swallowed what’s going on around you be sure to process it properly. This means releasing your feelings by sharing them with someone who has given you permission to be your sounding board. You should also look at exercise, a hobby and (especially) prayer as an outlet. If you hold on to it too long, it will eat you alive.
It’s not always easy to take the pain, criticism and hardships of student ministry; however, don’t let it bog you down. You might label yourself a realist and you could be right. But, if you embrace a pessimistic attitude it will bleed into your team, students and even your family. As a leader your attitude will influence others, make it as positive and encouraging as possible.
How do you deal with the tough situations in your ministry?