Few youth workers will deny that leading by example is the most challenging aspect of their ministry to students–and anyone who has tried to maintain consistency during the holidays will readily admit that the hectic schedule makes leading by example even more of a challenge than usual. Calendars get slammed, youth meetings are called off for a few weeks, and our focus just seems to slip a bit.
These realities point to a need for renewed commitment and a push to recapture the momentum we hopefully enjoyed as leaders prior to the Christmas break. But how do you do that? What’s the right mindset and approach? Is it as simple as just grinding through the challenge and getting back on track with your routine of spiritual disciplines?
In my experience, the most helpful approach to getting back into your sweet spot as a youth leader (a.k.a. leading by example) is an attitude adjustment. Though I don’t believe you can bank solely on a ‘Two Steps to Regained Momentum’ approach, I do find hope in these two suggestions:
1. Stop dwelling on your most recent “failures”
I know… it’s a bit of a downer to think of missed quiet time or lapses in your spiritual disciplines as failures, but if your goal is to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), you really can’t have a cavalier attitude towards spiritual neglect. It ought to burden your soul a bit. However, you can’t let those failures stop you from progressing in your spiritual growth in the future. Remind yourself that your students need a faithful leader. You cannot lead them where you aren’t going.
2. Reassert your goal to move on
Set your mind on what’s ahead. Rehearse Paul’s words to the Philippians: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
These steps are central to your mid-year ‘recalibration,’ or whatever you choose to call it. Here’s how I paraphrase Paul’s attitude towards focusing on growth and maturity:
- I haven’t arrived. I’m still pressing on to attain maturity in Christ.
- This is my ‘one thing,’ or my priority. It is foremost in my mind moving forward.
- I’m not dwelling on what has already happened. No, I’m straining with all my strength for what lies ahead.
- I have my eyes on the prize — the call of God toward continued faithfulness and maturity in Christ Jesus!
Leaders, this is for you. It’s time to forget what is behind and commit yourself to what lies before you — the calling of God to faithfulness. Keep your eyes on the prize. Press on! The students you minister to are waiting on you to lead them where you are going. This is the essence of real discipleship.
David Livingston has served youth and leaders in the local church for more than 25 years as a volunteer and full-time missionary. His life purpose is to teach and coach others in their journey together as fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. He and his wife of 41 years, Earlene, enjoy camping and hiking and being with their nine grandkids. They live in Oak Ridge, Tenn.