Every now and then I develop some exercises to help other leaders develop their self-awareness and I like to share them on here for you to use. A few months ago I offered one called Nurturing Your Sphere of Influence that helped me take intentional steps to nurture others (a key leadership skill I look for) around me. So many times we miss opportunities to help those with whom we work, lead, teach, meet, counsel, and even live to grow to their potential. And that exercise was helpful for others, too, based on the response I received.
Lately, perhaps it’s just the effects of the last weeks of a very cold winter, I’ve been listening to leaders who feel s.p.e.n.t. They are drained, easily frazzled, and therefore question their abilities even though they are highly gifted. I do think this is a seasonal reality for those of us (e.g. youth pastors, teachers) who work within a ‘school schedule’ where the end of the year is May or June in the northern hemisphere. But I also think there are some patterns that driven and gifted people enact that hurt them.
I teach a class on the fundamentals of Christian leadership at Bethel College (Indiana). As part of the class, I make students take two of the more prominent personality profile tests. We then spend some time and look them over, looking at their implications and where the tests align/don’t align with how we think about ourselves. But, I often warn them that they are more than a label of letters, they are complex and wonderfully-made than what a test determines.
I give this warning because I’ve seen the tests’ results abused. I’ve been a part of ministries that labeled workers as a “high I” (and then thought that person couldn’t follow through on details) or a “high S” and never give that person a chance to lead upfront. In another workplace where the Myers-Briggs was a strong component, I watched folks treat each other differently, almost as if there was a ranking system in place, based on what they knew of others. Try working in a ministry that values “high capacity” leaders (which usually means a dominant or influencing personality) and you’re a steady or compliant person. (This is a reference to the DISC profile, a helpful and common test used in many ministry settings)
I don’t normally do this, but when I got my copy of GLOBAL YOUTH MINISTRY, I sat down to read it as I would anyone else’s book. I wanted to experience the book as a reader would and then be open to the challenges presented by the various authors of the text. I was surprised how often, in spite of my familiarity with the text, I jotted down notes, underlined important concepts, and felt like the book helped me think about my youth ministry in new ways … let alone how youth ministry ‘works’ in other cultures.
You can find an excerpt of the text here.
Nothing too complicated today. Just a simple question: Do you take a day off each week? Do you have a day where you’re not working to meet the demands of an employer or a never-satisfied social media ‘audience’? I’ve begun a new practice of shutting down for 48 hours on the weekends now. Twitter off. Facebook off. Email left unchecked. No texting. None. Cell phone off and on the counter (we survived quite well without them as a human race until about 15 years ago).
.. and I didn’t miss much.
For over two years I served as a co-editor of the book, GLOBAL YOUTH MINISTRY, which will be released March 29th. The book features over 20 of the leading Christian youth ministry thinkers and authors from around the globe, drawing them together in a fascinating book that will aid the the educational efforts of organizations, colleges, and seminaries. The book will be extremely effective as a supplemental text for any seminary or college course (in a variety of disciplines) and it will work well assisting youth ministry organizations that have their own training program. And for veteran youth workers it is an interesting bird’s eye view of youth ministry around the world.
But, enough of the commercial. Co-editing a book like this gave me a unique opportunity and, for over two years, I stayed in close contact with a variety of organizations, leaders, schools (colleges, graduate schools, seminaries of various types), and local youth workers. I held a wide range of conversations with a wide range of people from a various Christian traditions. . Though no one has the corner on expertise regarding such a large topic, the editorial process of the book helped develop (I would hope, at least) an informed perspectives.
Over the next few weeks I will share a few of the observations (here and on other blogs) about global youth ministry that emerged during the editorial process. I started the series of observations last week with a history of how interest in international youth ministry developed within North America. There are quite a few organizations singularly focused on developing youth ministry in various regions of the world.
The first thing I learned about global is that it is, uh, worldwide. I know that’s not a shocking statement, but the implications are fascinating:
- Global youth ministry is present in every region of the world. Travel to almost any context and you’ll find committed Christian leaders who spend their spare time (many are bi-vocational) for the expressed purpose of working with the youth in their community.
- Global youth ministry is rooted in various Christian traditions. So, no one has a real corner on what is happening around the world because….
- …… Global youth ministry is compartmentalized. Whether due to denominational ties or to the mere fact that most local youth ministry is small and trying to just meet its own needs, there wasn’t a wide awareness of other equally committed youth ministries within many regions. We sought authors for who had a regional influence – and even into North America to help readers gain a broader perspective. There is another contributing factor to this compartmentalization that I’ll develop further in another post.
So, I walk away from this asking myself what can I/we learn as North American youth workers:
- What overseas youth ministry am I financially supporting? If we are committed to reaching the world for Christ, then we probably ought to be supporting our brothers and sisters who are at the forefront of that effort. I don’t mean this in a colonialistic way, but rather as a missional way to be good stewards of the blessings we have. If we’re investing time and money into short-term missions, I think we should be equally committed to helping those who live in a local context, speak the local language, and will have long-term presence do their job. And, like it or not, financial strain is a significant strain for almost every global youth ministry.
- How have I become compartmentalized in what I do in youth ministry? The youth ministry down the street or across town is not our competition… they’re on the same team as we are. And, they need as much encouragement as you and I do. The same unity we feel at a youth ministry conference should be something we nurture with fellow youth workers in our local communities as we network together beyond our created barriers.
What other implications or challenges does the fervor of global youth workers around the world present to you? What have I missed here? What local youth ministry in another context is one that you have lent your support to?
One of the most challenging phrases I encountered this past week in my studies was that “Jesus had the habit of prayer.”
There isn’t much that one can (or should) add to this. It is sufficient in its potency.
I have a list of movies that make me laugh, a list that features few, well none actually, academy award winners. But they are guaranteed to make me chuckle – and quote along. One of the highest ranking movies is The Three Amigos, a silly movie that featured Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Chevy Chase. Toward the end of the movie, these three silent film actors-turned-unlikely-heroes help a local village stand up to a local bandit, El Guapo, played by Alfsono Arau. Well, risking offense, here is the ‘speech’ scene: