As youth workers we understand the need to grow in our faith. We know that we can’t stay in the same place in our walk. We preach the importance of spiritual growth to our students, but often times we neglect ourselves. We look after the spiritual lives of others but forget to be intentional about our own. Here are the common pit falls that hinder our spiritual growth…
1. Reading our Bibles!
As youth workers we are SO busy all the time. We are go, go, go so often that the first thing to go out the window when it comes to our spiritual health is the amount of time we spend in The Word. A lot of times this is because we read the Bible and study it for sermons so we count that as good enough. I am so guilty of this! I lose track of time, get in a routine, just try to survive the fast pace of youth ministry and then all of a sudden I realize I haven’t read my Bible in weeks. And honestly, my personal growth suffers. We need to be growing and one of the essentials to growth is reading God’s Word.
2. Being in community
Of course you attend church regularly because that is your job, but are you actually experiencing community? As youth workers we are around students all the time and a lot of times that becomes our church. We don’t get to experience community with people our own age. We don’t get to be really real about what is going on in our lives because we are supposed to be the ones students look to when they are having problems. A lot of times we don’t have the type of church community that we need to foster our own spiritual growth. We need to be intentional about getting in a small group (if you actually have a free night where it would work), or at least getting a core group of people that you can actually be real with and talk about what is going on with you and your walk with the Lord.
3. Sharing Christ outside of our comfort zone
If you share your faith with someone I guarantee you will grow! But for youth workers this is what we do and while there is no way I would say it is easy, sharing Christ with students is our job and it is what we are comfortable with. And that is GREAT! But personal growth comes when we step outside our comfort zone and share Christ with someone that doesn’t come through the doors of our youth ministry. This is the part where it is not so easy and we often times neglect that part of our own spiritual growth. Being intentional about living our lives as if people are watching (not just our students) and stepping out to share Christ with someone in our lives like we preach for our students to do is one of the major ways we can grow in our own walk.
For some of you this might not be an issue at all! But for others giving our money is difficult. One of the reasons it is so difficult is because as youth workers we really don’t make that much. I don’t think that anyone is getting rich off of youth ministry. That is not why we do it, and most of the youth workers I know are getting extremely underpaid and are struggling to stay afloat financially. That’s why giving our money is so difficult. I know for me this has been a tough one, writing that tithe check sometimes meant not knowing where our food for the last 3 days of the month would come from. Some of you might tithe regularly but giving any extra offerings or supporting a missionary or anything like that is out of the question. You do what is “required” but giving goes beyond that, it is having a generous spirit with our money. A lot of youth workers get caught up in not growing spiritually because they are unwilling to step out in giving.
5. Finding time
Finding time in our lives to invest into our own spiritual growth can be difficult. Finding time to rest, time to spend with God in silence, time to fast and pray, time to sit and reflect on what God is doing, time to be healthy, all of these things can either grow our relationship with Christ or if neglected can take us backwards. Youth ministry IS the most time consuming and difficult ministry position (yes, I can say that because this is a youth ministry blog) and often times we get so caught up that we are not intentional about finding time to work on our relationship with God, but if we are going to grow spiritually it is essential that we make this time.
Spiritual growth is not a suggestion, it is essential to our faith. There is no such thing as staying where we are, you are either growing or you are dying. As youth workers we need to be intentional about not just looking after the growth and spiritual well being of our students but of ourselves as well.