Saturday, November 13, 2010

Spiritual Self-Care as Youth Pastor

About little over a month ago, the topic of our YPA meeting was Spiritual Self Care; simply how do we tend to our own souls. (warning this is long, but worth the read. I added pics to help)

This is something that is hard when your job is to tend to everyone else’s soul, and often your gets forgotten.  Unfortunately, the local church has rarely done a good job of helping, often times it just makes it worse; and after sometime we find ourselves drained. One even shared, “I had to realize that the church wasn’t going to be the place where we get fed.”
So, we discussed and shared as a group what are some ways we have each found and use to keep filling our own souls so that we might be able to tend to others because if we have nothing, we have nothing to give too.
Here is a summation of the ideas, we hope if nothing else this might help give you some ideas to try out.
We will start with the easier ones:

often times just hearing a different communicator helps to inspire us in our own context.  Here are a few that we shared that are worth listening to, but it is by no means an exhaustive list:
Andy Stanly, Mars Hill (Rob Bell), Grander Community Church, Louie Giglio, Princeton Youth Culture, Fuller Institute, Cornerstone Church in Semi Valley (Francis Chan), Doug Fields, Youth Hacks, Alistair Begg, James McDonald, Walk in the Word.

These are short DVD sermonettes with great
illustrations by Rob Bell.  I have a pastor friend who starts his day sometimes with watching and meditating on one of these as his devotional. You can find them at

Often times we can all be inspired by the great of past and the voices of the present, especially in scripture, but also in other writings. Here are just a few suggestions:
-C.S. Lewis (yes Narnia, but also his other greats like Mere Christianity and the Great Divorce and the Problem of Pain)
-Henri Nouwen (Anything his writes, make sure to check out his bio too)
-Richard Foster (Celebration of Disciplines, Prayer)
-Philip Yancey (Rumors of Another World, his book on prayer)
-Gordon MacDonald (Who Stole My Church)
-Anne Jackson (Made Church Disease, Permission to Speak Freely)
-Brian McLaren (New Kind of Christianity, A New Kind of Christian, almost anything by him)

Another way that we can find ourselves being fed is to
get away for a few days and go to conferences.  Often we think of just going to youth ministry conferences, which are great; but as one pointed out we need to also try leader and pastor conferences where we are fed too, not just learning the next new idea. Here are a few we have been to:
-National Youth Workers Convention
-Simply Youth Ministry
-RESTORE (Student Life puts on a conference for just for Youth Pastors and it is FREE!)
-Princeton Forum on Youth Ministry


We get this backwards a lot, myself included.  We study to teach lessons, but what is we study to grow in love of God and neighbor, and out of that our lesson flowed? Here are a few things you could try:
-Read scripture you don’t often read
-Try reading a whole book in one sitting as a story, the Message version is good for this.
-Try reading the Bible in a year

I have to admit, this was not one I had ever thought of, but just like personal study, we often only do missions when we schedule it for our youth.  We are called to live missionally every day, what if we did? Find something you are passionate about and start serving, not planning a trip, but just you show up and serve.  Once again let this lifestyle flow from your own to the youth, not the other way around.

I have heard it said and it really rings true now that I am married, but it was even true before that: “When you say YES to something, you have just said NO to something else.”  We have to learn to say NO as youth pastors.  Yes we have random skill and gifts that help the whole church, and this is not a ploy to say stop helping, it is just to say CHECK YOURSELF.  What am I saying NO to when I say yes to this?  If someone approaches you with an idea for the youth to do, ask them to head it up, and if they won’t then let them know you won’t be able to either.  

We are called to a place of rest, a time of rest, all of us.  Often in ministry, this Sabbath isn’t Sunday but we fail to admit that.  Sabbath should be a set away time hopefully day a week where we participate in whatever puts us in a space where God can fill back and heal our souls.  This is a great need in all of our lives, and if we as pastors fail to exemplify this in our own lives, how can we expect our youth and churches to live it out? Remember the Sabbath is different from vacation, vacations is just getting away, Sabbath is getting away to be with God.  My challenge to you is to try this for 4 weeks, pick a day each week and go and be, and see what happens.  Here are a few ideas on what you can do and other ways to experience Sabbath.
-Take a night away where you are disconnected from all things electronic including clocks.
-Take a day and spend it just being in God’s creation. Go lay in a pile of leave or a field of flowers.
-My wife and I are both in ministry in the same church, when we take Sabbath it is on Fridays, and the best ones have been when we have taken mornings to ourselves with God and then came back together later in the day for a romantic day night.
-Start simple, don’t answer or check your phone or email for one day a week.
-Take the day after a retreat for Sabbath, whatever day of the week it is.
-Take a few Sundays off a year and don’t go to church anywhere.
-One shared a ways of Sabbath living as 1 hour a day, 1 day a week, 1 night away a month, and I would add one week a year all for Sabbath.
- Take a 3 days retreat to an Abby, Monastery, and join them for set hours of prayer, nothing else.
- Find Prayer Practices that fill you! Labyrinths, Journaling, Music, Prayer beads ,whatever!
-Each night, I have found to just turn my brain off often a great TV show or movie or other activity like sports helps to get away.
-Create a Rhythmic Week that lay out when you plan to do everything you need to do each week just having a general guideline will help really organize you week.
-Finally, find someone else who is going to check up and make sure you are keeping Sabbath, not because you should, but because without Sabbath we eventually die inside.

We hope this was not overwhelming, but inspiring.  DO NOT TRY ALL OF THIS AT THE SAME TIME! Try one, if it doesn’t connect you and God, try again.  Be creative mix some together and make sure to tend to your soul!
Comment and leave your ideas!!

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