"But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." 2 Timothy 4:5
Paul's last instructions to young Timothy (before he was going to lose his head to Nero's axe) can give youth leaders help in keeping both their heads and their jobs. Here are Paul's four powerful and practical reminders to his younger protege:
1. Don't freak out!
Yeah, things may be bad. Maybe you're pastor is upset with you because you blew your budget. Perhaps there is some ministry-induced relational stress in your marriage. Or maybe this whole youth ministry venture isn't turning out like you anticipated.
Welcome to life.
Don't freak out. Recalibrate your soul around Jesus and his kingdom priorities. Take a deep breath of pneuma (not to be confused with Nooma) and rest in him.
2. Endure hardship.
The Marines say, "Pain is weakness leaving the body." Christians should say, "Pain is Christlikeness entering the soul."
Jesus has partitioned off a certain amount of sufferings for us to endure, not to save us from sin (that was taken care of at the cross) but to conform us into his image. As Philippians 1:29 reminds us, "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him."
Pain...it's what's for dinner.
3. Do the work of an evangelist.
Timothy was not an evangelist by nature or gifting. Paul was. So Paul challenged Timothy to live outside his comfort zone by making evangelism a priority.
Most youth leaders I know are more like Timothy than Paul in this regard so they, too, need to do the work of an evangelist. They need to make it part of the way they do ministry. More than a program this is a paradigm, a philosophy that changes their view of the lost and the responsibility of the young believers under their care to reach them with the gospel.
Is evangelism a priority in your youth ministry? I'm not talking about outreach meetings. I'm talking about equipping your teens to be the outreach meeting by reaching their own circle of friends with the gospel. For more help with this check out THE Cause.
4. Discharge all the duties of your ministry.
In every job there are things we love and things we loathe. Do them both for the glory of God. Tackle them with vigor, discipline and passion for you are doing what you do for the glory of God.
It's in the parts of our job that we tend to loathe where we show our commitment to take up the cross of Christ. If everything was "fun" then where is the sacrifice? Rejoice in writing newsletters, not just giving talks. Rejoice in cleaning up the youth room, not just counseling teenagers. Rejoice in whatever parts of your job that you naturally cringe at doing.
Don't freak. Embrace the pain. Do the work of an evangelist. Do the fun stuff and the other stuff for the glory of God. If you do these things you'll do more than keep your head. You'll keep your job.