Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I find it interesting that even though I am not a student anymore my life is still run by school schedules, classes, school events, school rules, and the school calendar. When I plan the year for the youth group I still divide it into "fall semester", "spring semester", and "summer vacation" in my mind. (Which, in youth ministry, summer isn't really a "vacation" despite all of the traveling you do.) My planner is filled with dates of sporting events, school plays and musicals, and days when I'm picking kids up from school. It looks remarkably like my planner did when I was in high school and college. It's as though not a whole lot as changed, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

What I also find interesting is that when I was a student I couldn't wait for the first day of school. While I enjoyed how relaxing summer could be and how free I was from homework, it wasn't my favorite time of the year. Summer also meant being away from my friends for longer periods of time, and long lazy days just don't cut it for me. Therefore, when August rolled around I was really excited.

It seems as though that has changed however. By the time August comes, I'm rolling my eyes and groaning along with all of the teenagers at church. While I am excited to get the "regular" youth events going again and I enjoy visiting the schools, I miss summer. My summers now are busier than they ever were due to VBS, youth trips, and weddings that I attend. During the summer I don't have to be in the office as much. I can call teenagers on a whim and take them out for ice cream or hang out at the pool all afternoon. When August comes, those days are done and I am back in my office chair on a more regular basis.

I also usually consider the first day of school the "new year". I feel like most people who have been in school most of their lives feel the same way. I don't plan my year according to January 1st. I plan my year by when the schools have their first day. So the last few weeks I have been working on planning my year. August is when I start fresh. I leave the old habits of the previous year behind me and I look forward to new goals and ideas.

I've never been one for New Years Resolutions in January. By the time January is 1/2 done you've already broken it. But now that August is here, in a sense I've been thinking in terms of "new years resolutions." I have ideas, goals, and things I want to improve on for the next year. Although, instead of thinking of things I want to do, I want to think of things that I'll stop doing. Things I want to improve on or work on. Anti-resolutions I guess you could say.

1) Stop trying to tell the teenagers "I understand" or "I've been there." It's one of those things that I never thought I would say or do, but when I listen to myself talking to the teenagers I hear myself saying those phrases. But I may not understand, and I haven't been there. There may be some similarities between their high school experience and mine, but they are not the same. Therefore, I should not try and act like they are.

2) I want to stop relying on programs for youth ministry. It's not about programs, but relationships. I don't want fill the calendar simply so they are busy and have a lot of stuff to do. It's another thing I never thought I would do when I got into ministry, but it's happened. I need to focus on the relationships and simply hanging out with the teenagers instead of trying to get them to come to events.

3) Stop trying to do everything myself. It's impossible. So just stop.

4) Try not to push time with God aside, for myself and when I'm doing ministry. I feel like sometimes when I'm with the teenagers it's all about socializing and then some Jesus if there is time. Don't get me wrong. Jesus is there in the socializing, and you don't need to talk about the Bible 24/7. But when I do get into the Word with the teenagers (and even on my own) it's more of a side-note versus a focus.

Just some things that I want to work on this year. They aren't resolutions because there is no way I can keep these all of the time. It's just things that need improvement. We'll see how it goes.

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