It’s Sunday afternoon and God has just moved in incredible ways in the youth ministry I pastor, so why do I feel so awful and dejected? How can I not hear the encouragement from others and find myself planted on the few things that did not go right? Is there something wrong with me? Does this have anything to do with me?
The feeling at the end of a great weekend retreat, Disciple Now, camp experience, mission trip, or any of the other events we do can be exhilarating. The group feels a sense of camaraderie and the spirit of the group has completely changed from when you arrived or started. We all love events for this reason (it’s definitely not for the planning). An event can accomplish some things that a weekly service can’t. The part that’s not talked about and that those outside of student ministry don’t get is what I like to call “event lag.” It’s the negative feeling or happenings after an event that just can’t be shaken. It threatens to ruin the whole experience or make us doubt what God has just done.
Often, the problem with “event lag” is that it makes us immediately look towards ourselves. We’ve (hopefully) spent an entire weekend talking about how it’s all about Jesus and within a blink of an eye it’s back to being about us. It is hard not to take the parent gripping about something, or the young person tweeting something dumb, personally. We’ve invested so much into the weekend and we want everything to go smoothly. Part of it is because we want the students/parents to think they have the best youth pastor in the world, but another part of it is that we want to honor God in what we do. How do we respond to criticism? How do we react when things don’t go the way they are planned?
Sometimes events do not work out the way you planned and situations go haywire. Don’t take it personal. Imagine Robin Williams holding you right now saying “It’s not your fault… It’s not your fault… It’s not your fault.” At our fall retreat, my worship leader messaged me two hours before we left to tell me he couldn’t make it because he has diverticulitis… two hours! Diverticulitis! Who’s ever even heard of that?!? I went into a mini-panic, but then I realized that my freak out was not helping anyone. God worked it out when a buddy of mine stepped in to lead worship. Worship was amazing that weekend and it was not something I planned. At the end of the retreat, we planned more than enough drivers to pick us up and we had 4 or 5 that didn’t show up. Just…didn’t…show…up. There are certain things that are within your control, but you can’t control everything. On a side note, if you are a lazy planner or unprepared then you need to repent and get on that grind. Your students and God deserve better.
God can use these hiccups to remind us to trust in Him. It’s easy to slip into a mode of trusting in our own understanding and not His. God will accomplish His work and use every event as a teaching moment for our benefit. Do not let “event lag” come and steal your joy, remember that it is found in God and not in events. Talk it out with a buddy in youth ministry… gain some outside perspective. It’s good to know that you aren’t alone in your feelings. Open up to your spouse, use this as a point of intimacy. Most of all, when your soul feels drained, tired and beat down after an event, be still, and listen to God’s voice. You are a child of the King above being a pastor.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/BrandonWeir.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Brandon Weir is the Student Pastor at The Fellowship Round Rock near Austin, TX. What does Brandon love? “I love my wife Jules, my dog Ranger, Texas Tech, being outdoors, the Texas Rangers, camping, hiking, reading, Torchy’s Tacos and I love me some Jesus.”