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You Are Not Superman or Superwoman

I’m skipping the intro here and getting straight to the point: you are not superman, or superwoman, or supergirl.

Have you ever noticed how many superheroes are doing it all alone? They’ve got superpowers, so they don’t need anything or anybody else. Also, they’re virtually indestructible, so they can keep going and going and going.

You’re not superman, or superwoman. You cannot do it all by yourself. Not in life, not in youth ministry, not in anything. Continue reading You Are Not Superman or Superwoman

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How to Move from Surviving to Thriving

Stress is an inescapable part of youth ministry, of life really. But when that stress takes over your life, when that stress forces you into a constant survival mode,when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore, it’s not okay anymore.

No matter if you’re a full time youth pastor or combining a paid job with a role as volunteer in youth ministry, it can get overwhelming to try and do it all. You want to spend time with God. You want to spend time with your family. You want to spend time with students. You want to get stuff done. And somewhere, sometimes, you’d also like to breathe and have some down time. But how?

If you feel at times like you’re drowning, you’re not alone. Many youth workers struggle with stress and being overworked, and I used to be one of them. I was in full-on survival mode for years, until I had a scary wake-up call that made me realize how much I was sacrificing: my health, my relationships and friendships, even my relationship with God. After that, things changed and with some effort, I created a more healthy life rhythm. And I want that for you as well.

You’re not called to survive in youth ministry. You’re called to thrive. Continue reading How to Move from Surviving to Thriving

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Free e-Book: The 7 Keys to an Effective To Do List

I’ve been in youth ministry since 1999. For the first 10 years or so, youth ministry equaled massive amounts of stress for me. Oh, don’t get me wrong: I loved working with teens. Youth ministry was and is my passion. But it was tough to combine a full time job with being a youth leader. And even when I became a paid youth pastor, the stress was always there.

One huge stress factor for me (being the perfectionist over-achiever that I am) was my to do list. Or maybe I should say: my do do lists. The endless list of actions I felt I had to do for my job, my personal life, and my youth ministry was so overwhelming, I felt I was drowning in to do’s half the time. Whatever I managed to get done at the top, was immediately replaced with new items at the bottom. It was so discouraging. Continue reading Free e-Book: The 7 Keys to an Effective To Do List

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Overcome Your Worries

Worrying always overwhelms you just when you don’t need it. You want to go to sleep, but worrying keeps you awake. You need to prepare your youth sermon, but worrying keeps distracting you. You want to really ‘be’ in the conversation and listen, but worrying keeps drawing your thoughts elsewhere.

Worries about your youth ministry.

Worries about your financial situation.

Worries about your marriage, your family, your friends.

Worries about students, your small group members.

Worries about the future.

While we all have our worry moments every now and then, there can be times in your life when your worries really seem to take over. If you feel your life is being dominated by worries, here’s what to do. Continue reading Overcome Your Worries

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Responding to the Hyper-Feedback Parent

If you’ve never had a hyper-feedback parent involved in your youth ministry, you’re missing out. I mean that in both a sincere and sarcastic way. Sarcastically, these parents are a thorn in the flesh, the cause of ulcers, and deepen your prayer life in all the wrong ways. Sincerely, hyper-feedback parents can sharpen the ministry, push you to grow, and provide numerous opportunities to practice humility, courage and love. Continue reading Responding to the Hyper-Feedback Parent

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6 Books to Read if You’re New to Youth Ministry

I spoke at Open Boston last week and met some wonderful youth leaders. One young woman asked me for advice. She is new to youth ministry and had a deep sense of “I don’t know what I’m doing”. Well, that certainly sounds familiar because that’s exactly how I felt when I became a youth ministry volunteer for the first time! Seriously, I felt overwhelmed and I was making stuff up as I went along.

At that time, there wasn’t much available in The Netherlands (where I lived back then) in youth ministry resources and training. And that may be the case for you as well, as I have many readers outside of the US (which I love by the way—it’s such an honor to serve churches in South Africa, Nigeria, Brazil, The Philippines, India, Australia, the UK, you name it). You may not have access to training, a formal education, or even resources. Continue reading 6 Books to Read if You’re New to Youth Ministry

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Women in Youth Ministry Campference

In April of this year, we’ll be holding the second Women in Youth Ministry Campference. It’s an awesome time for women leaders in youth ministry to connect with others, grow, and exhale. But it may not be clear for everyone why such a conference matters, or why it’s even needed.

As women who do youth ministry, we have a different position than men. We run into different problems, have other challenges, and unique needs. Continue reading Women in Youth Ministry Campference

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Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First

Anyone who has ever managed to actually pay attention during the safety instructions on an airplane, knows this line:

“When traveling with children, put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”

As much as I don’t want to think about an airplane losing cabin pressure, causing passengers to need an oxygen mask, I have pondered the reality of that admonition. You cannot help your children—or anyone else for that matter—when you don’t have oxygen yourself. They need you to take care of yourself first, so you can take care of them afterwards. They need you to put your own oxygen mask on first. Continue reading Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First

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The Three Things You Have to Schedule Right Now

Judging by the ‘back to school’ posts on my social media timelines, school has started everywhere again. That means most youth ministries will be up and running again as well after the summer break.

Now, whether you are a slightly OCD type-A planner who has got every detail down for the whole season, or more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type: I am certain you have some kind of schedule for your ministry—and thus for yourself. You know the programs and activities you’ve got scheduled, right?

But at the start of the season, there are three things that you have to schedule. Right now. Continue reading The Three Things You Have to Schedule Right Now

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How to Handle Annoying People

One of the funniest, yet truest expressions I learned early on in youth ministry, was the concept of EGR people. If you’re not familiar with it, let me educate you. EGR stands for Extra Grace Required, which is a much nicer way of saying these people annoy the heck out of you.

In every church, in every ministry, in every job, organization, or whatever, you will come across annoying people. Here’s the thing though: some will be annoying to mostly everyone, but others seem to push your red buttons only. It may be because you’re opposites, or because the other’s dominant habit or character trait is your allergy. Continue reading How to Handle Annoying People