Last month I read an article by Josh Griffin about raising kids in ministry and it really got me thinking. If you want to read his article you can by clicking here.
Obviously it has kept me thinking, since I am posting my thoughts over a month later. Truthfully this is one of the things that almost kept me out of youth ministry completely. As I “fought” with God about what He wanted me to do with my life, the fact that I grew up with several PK’s as close friends effected me.
Several years and three boys later I am very glad I finally gave in and pursued youth ministry. This picture is of me and my three boys at one of our youth events this summer. I was afraid of the negative side of them growing up as pastor’s kids, but there are some major upsides too.
They are surrounded by awesome people!
The students that are in our lives are awesome people, and I value the time my boys spend with them whether at the church, at our house, and everywhere else we all hang out. But they are also surrounded by some very awesome adults as well. The other church staff, the adult youth staff, the children’s ministry staff, and so many church members are people I love for my boys to be around.
They can be with me at work!
Yes, as a pastor I work a lot of hours. But I also realize that for many of those hours my family can be with me. If I was punching a clock somewhere else that would not be the case. I also have flexibility with my office time and can do stuff (like go on field trips) that other Dads just simply can’t do.
They are learning as they grow up!
They see and watch incredible life lessons play out in from of them. Obviously I am careful with what I expose them to, but my hope is they can learn from other’s now and avoid some of these things in their own lives later. I have told my boys more than once, (and will again) that our family does things different than some of their friend’s families. We base our decisions on the Bible and God and the role He has put us in.
For me, my youth pastor role and my Dad role mix quite a bit, and I love it! No matter if you are a youth worker or not, the role you play as a parent is HUGE, do you take it seriously enough?
I will start off by saying I really enjoyed reading this book. I am not a big “reader” so I usually only read to develop and learn for my faith and my job, this book being related to my personal life was a breath of fresh air for me.
As I read Ben’s observations and personal experiences surrounding his own kids, his victories and his frustrations, I felt like I was reading my own inner thoughts. It brought great comfort to me realizing that I am not alone in my feelings as I raise young kids. From mourning my pre-kid life, to the packed schedules, the family meals, and the funny conversations I felt like Ben was inviting me onto a team with him as we both strive for a win as parents.
A highlight for me in the book was the questions for reflection at the end of each chapter. They are great questions and really help to move my mind from Ben’s stories to my own experiences.
I did feel like the book was a bit of a slow starter, but stick with it through the last few chapters of section one. Once you make it to section two and through the end it moves quicker and is very practical.
Overall this book is definitely worth your time, if you have young kids join the team!
If you want to check out more of Ben’s writing click here to read his blog “Average Youth Ministry”.
I am on vacation this week since my wife and boys are out of school the entire week for Thanksgiving. We drove to my in-laws house yesterday and I can honestly say I have been looking forward to this week for a while.
That is a really big statement for me to make since I normally do not enjoy going toYakima,WA. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife’s family and enjoy time with them. But my idea of “relax” usually needs to include our boat, or my golf clubs, or riding something that goes really fast, or riding a chair lift over and over; Yakima has none of these things to offer in late November and not a lot of people to do it with.
This week, I can honestly say I am thankful that no plans include any of those things. My last several weeks have been completely insane. From all the stuff involved in buying a new house, and all the stuff involved in renting the old house, and moving our stuff from one house to the other. Then add on one of the most frustrating days of my life plus all of the regular stuff that goes with having a young family and being a youth pastor I can say that I have been running on empty.
Doug Fields wrote a book a few years back titled Refuel, and in that book he describes some signs he sees in his life when he is approaching empty. When those signs start to appear it is time to take a time out, go to God, and be refueled. Here are a few of the signs in my life that show I am on empty.
1. I get frustrated easily.
My personality thrives on success. I don’t like to do things that don’t matter or don’t make a difference, and I expect to succeed quickly. If I don’t, I get frustrated and want give up. When I am near empty I reach frustration a lot more quickly. I have been frustrated a lot lately.
2. I lack motivation.
When I get exhausted, whether physically or mentally or Spiritually, I just want to be lazy. I am not normally a lazy person, I love to go and do and talk and create. The only time I want to sit around and watch TV or waste a whole day doing nothing is when I am approaching empty.
3. I get hard on my boys.
My boys are 7, 5, and 3. They are typical boys; they are loud, do annoying things, make a lot of messes, fight with each other, have fun doing most anything, and turn everything into a weapon. I love the fact that our house is the way it is. But when I am empty I find myself more annoyed at their short attention spans, how slow they do stuff, and basically start disciplining them for being kids.
4. I cheat on relationships.
I love meeting new people and involving others in my life. I love talking through life issues and discussing things from someone else’s point of view. When I am empty I tend to lose the relating side of me and walk over people that get in the way or just use people to aid in my success. This is a weakness in my personality type that I am well aware of, and if I have ever done it to you I am sorry. When I am empty I catch myself doing it more and all my relationships turn strictly business.
There are probably more that I could add to my “empty list”, but these are definitely my top four. As you can see, each one feeds the others, so when I am near empty it effects everything I do. It is really hard for me to stop, even when I know I need to.
What things are on your empty list? If you haven’t ever thought about it you need to. If you don’t know then ask your spouse or kids or coworkers, they most likely do know what yours are…!
This week I am intentionally doing things to fill myself up. My next post will be my list of things that fill me up, I like this list a lot better!
This weekend we had our church family camp. It is a Labor Day tradition at our church, and I look forward to it every year. I love to go hand out in the mountains, stay right on the lake, and have someone else cook for us all weekend. I love meeting new people in our church, deepening relationships with those I do know, and just hanging out and playing games with everyone.
For the most part, this is a weekend off as a youth worker. However, I realized this weekend how valuable it truly is for our youth ministry. Since it is family camp, the parents are responsible for their own teenager, not me or the other youth leaders that attend. There are three reasons why having no programs is a huge boost for our youth ministry.
1. It gives us a chance to hang out with students as friends.
Sure, we hang out with these same students basically every week. This year especially, we knew every teenager at camp fairly well. But things are different when it isn’t a formal program or a scheduled hang out time. They are different, and so am I. It is not on my shoulders that they have a good time, and they know I am not in charge, so we both can relax and have fun.
2. We see them interact with their families
These are church families we see on a regular basis, but we all know people put on a show when they are at church. It is impossible to keep up the fake show the entire weekend. As I observe how the students interact with their parents, what they do or don’t do to their siblings, what “drama” they participate in, and who they hang out with and what they decide to do really shows a lot about what Spiritual guidance they need.
3. We interact with parents a lot
I get to spend some time with youth group parents, and they spend time with me. We can get to know each other with no expectations. I see how they parent and interact with their teenagers. They see how I parent and how I interact with THEIR teenagers. These are all good things that help us truly be on the same team.
Church family camp is always a fun weekend, and a good time for our church as we jump into fall. It is also a great chance to sit back a bit as a youth worker and learn.