Ok, so I've recently been listening to the Entre Leadership Podcast which I'm finding to be very excellent and stimulating as I'm public transporting to and from college each day.  A recent episode, (I can't remember which one exactly sorry!) combined with the rebuke I got in chapel last week about the need to be thankful (see here) has got me thinking about how one should survie and thrive in Youth Ministry, or any ministry, or perhaps even just in life in general.

One of the things that struck me in the Entre podcast was that people need to make a conscious decision not to blame others for their situation, but to instead focus on what they can change and influence.  It was perhaps a bit too individualistic, but a valid point nonetheless.  How easy it is to blame others for the bad things that happen to us.

Anyway, I think the key to surviving and thriving is building a support structure with intention.  That is thinking about what areas of your life you need to be working on and growing in and then seeking people out to support, challenge, and encourage you in those areas.  Here are a few of the areas that spring to mind

  1. Spiritual
    • You need help and support you in your spiritual life.  If you're in ministry, you're going to be giving out lots of spiritual help.  How do you expect to do that without your own help?
  2. Intellectual
    • I think, especially as Youth Pastors, there is a tendency to be anti-intellectual.  Like we think if we read too much we'll lose touch with our youth.  But actually we need to be developing our intellectual life in order to speak in meaningful ways to young people.  Not only that but if we actually sound smart that might help us when dealing with parents or other members of the church.  Leaders and learners is the old saying, and the best way to learn is to read stuff.
  3. Family/Sexual
    • How easy it is to not put your family first, or be tempted in the area of sexual sin.  We must be open with people so as not to fall.  I guess you would also include finances in this category.
  4. Ministry Responsibilities
    • Aside from your 'boss' you need to have a place where you can talk about what you're struggling with.  What your goals are.  What your hopes, fears and dreams are.  Being accountable in this area, outside of your job, allows you to be honest and to avoid getting stuck in a rut.
  5. Personal Health
    • Again, it's easy to eat a lot of chocolate, pizza, and coke when in youth ministry (or perhaps ministry in general?).  Not only that but it's easy to not get enough sleep, not do any physical activity.  Gain weight, get tired lots and lose effectiveness.  You need to be accountable in this area as well.
So they are the 5 big areas that I think you need to be accountable with.  My other feeling is you possibly need 5 people (one for each area give or take) who keep you accountable deliberately in these areas.  This saves the pressure of having a single mentor figure who you rely completely on and I think it is an easier thing to invite someone to speak into one area of your life.

So what are your thoughts?  How do you make sure you survive and thrive in the rough and tumble world of ministry?