“Do you think that God rescued you because you’re awesome and God needed you on the team to succeed?” Paraphrase of Matt Chandler
There is one thing I’ve noticed about youth workers over the last ten or so years since I started college, graduated, and have worked as a youth worker in a church…youth workers are a cocky bunch. Especially male youth workers. We tend to (think we) have it all figured out! We know exactly how to do everything the best way possible. We DEFINITELY don’t need anyone’s help. If something isn’t working…it’s probably someone else’s fault and there is no reason to reach out for help. I lump myself into this category…at least externally. I took the first two years after college to work at a hotel front desk, investigate personal injury cases, and collect debt for the family law firm, running from what God has called me to do because I felt I wasn’t good enough to lead teenagers spiritually. On the outside though, I have it all together of course!
The last four years have taught me a lot about ministry. Namely, that I am pretty much worthless on my own. My mindset for ministry has gone from thinking I’d lead a youth ministry on my own, to getting hired as the lesser (by hours and responsibility) member of a two person ministry team, to realizing that two isn’t enough and we need dozens of adult leaders to do effective ministry, to now being a part of a Family Ministry team and working together to lead families with kids of all ages. Most importantly though, I’ve learned that no ministry can be done without God and the power of the Holy Spirit…a fact that many of us seem to forget.
I’m not sure where us youth ministry types get this overblown sense of pride in “knowing” that we can do it all on our own. We spend so much time critiquing other ministries and leaders, believing that we can “do it better” while often not spending nearly enough time seeking exactly how God would like us to lead in our own ministry context. Have we forgotten that, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6. We once were the ungodly, and often still are very weak.
I have to be conscious of this attitude within myself. I’m genetically wired to believe I’m always right…I mean…I did grow up with lawyers in my immediate and extended family. It has taken a lot of intentional work and prayer to ask for help in ministry as often as I have (probably not enough still). Yet, through that, I have found a lot of joy in seeking out wise counsel on any number of personal and professional issues over the last few years. God has begun to surround me with great Pastors, ministry partners, and friends that help guide me and keep me in line. They tell me when I’m dead on, and when I couldn’t have missed the mark by more.
We’ve seen where an overly cocky and arrogant attitude in ministry can lead us in the example of Mark Driscoll. Driscoll is an incredibly gifted speaker and teacher. He has the gifts to speak to the exact people that the American church is missing in a way that changes lives. Unfortunately, he all but disqualified himself for ministry by his own arrogance. While it may be a breath of fresh air that someone in his position wasn’t disqualified for illegal or theological matters per-se, it can still be just as damaging to the people who looked to him for leadership and spiritual guidance.
I pray that our generation of youth leaders and pastors would begin to lead in a new way, that we would set ego aside and be willing to admit our weaknesses and surround ourselves with people that both compliment those weaknesses and hold us accountable when we fall short. I pray that we would lead out of the knowledge that we can not do this on our own, but only by God’s grace can we succeed in the mission He has given us. I am thankful for those that have modeled this to me in my life.