Youth Ministry When You Just Don’t Feel Like It

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After the busyness that comes with summer, after we kick-off the new school year, it is easy for youth ministers to grow exhausted, near the point of burnout, and creep away from their passion. I noticed it when one of my students said to me, “Mike, why don’t you laugh anymore? We miss your laugh!” I have been so caught up with the busyness of ministry that I have forgotten why I do what I do, and I have also forgotten to enjoy what I do.

Here are some steps that I take when I hit those times to help rekindle my passion for ministry that I think might also help you if and when you find yourself where I am.

Spend time with God.

This might seem like the obvious one, considering we share God’s word on a weekly basis, but I mean spend time with God for you, not for your job. There have been Sundays where I have been so busy that I didn’t make it to a church service or weeks would go by without me doing any type of personal devotion because I was too busy preparing for what I had coming up at work. At the time I thought that I was doing what was right, making sure I got everything in line for the next event or program. However, I noticed that I couldn’t properly pour into my students if I wasn’t taking care of myself spiritually. I was able to fake it for a bit but it eventually caught up to me and I just didn’t have what it took spiritually to give my all in my lessons to my students. I have noticed that when I make time to have personal time with God that preparing for lessons are easier and I have I feel more prepared to take on whatever is thrown at me that day.

Do what you love to do.

Whenever I get caught up in the busyness of youth ministry, I tend to neglect the part of my job that gives me energy and that I enjoy the most. When things get busy, we get bogged down in the never ending lists of things that we have coming up and we forget to have fun. For me, and I would bet for many of my fellow youth ministers, the fun part of this job is spending time with students and building relationships with them. I began making sure that I have time in my week to do what I love, either by taking a bunch of students to eat lunch, drink coffee, or play laser tag.

Make time for yourself outside of work.

This is honestly the hardest one for me. Youth ministry calls for non-normal hours that include Friday nights at football games or Saturdays at a student’s musical. It is extremely easy, at least for me, to spend the majority of my time focused on youth ministry-related things, even when I should be relaxing or having fun doing non-work activities. It is so important to set time aside to learn something new or read a book, not for the ministry but for yourself. Don’t forget to watch your favorite movie, drink coffee with a friend (and not talk about work-related topics…yes I know it’s hard), or go for a run to enjoy the beautiful weather.

It has taken me a while to realize that it is okay for me to let my phone go to voicemail or not to respond to text messages right away. People will leave a message and you can respond in the appropriate time. I pray if you are starting to lose your passion that these steps will help you as they have been helping me get back to having the passion for youth ministry again.

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Mike has been working in student ministry for around 10 years now. He got his start in student ministry as an intern at St. James United Methodist Church in Montgomery, AL, and after a few years he was hired as an associate over the middle school. He is currently serving in Mobile, AL as a youth minister at Christ United Methodist Church. Mike has a passion for building relationships with students and to teach them about God’s love and grace. You can follow Mike on Twitter: @mikeyrollins and on Instagram: @mrollins83

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