Content but not satisfied, that is where I pray I am regarding my ministry.
Youth ministry can be a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs. There are times when things are going amazing, you are convinced that you have the best job in the world and you are satisfied with everything in your ministry. Then 3 days later you want to quit and never look back because nothing makes you happy and you are not content at all. We all experience those ups and downs, it is very normal and you may even be experiencing a major low or a cruise control moment while you read this.
Often times when the lows hit we look at our circumstances and blame them for our unhappiness, or at least I do. We get to a point where we are just not happy where we are. Maybe we are still okay with ministry but just not where we are, and we think ‘there has got to be greener pastures somewhere else!’ We are not content. I have been there quite a few times, and to be honest it is a dangerous place to be.
So how do you keep yourself from being in that spot where you are not content? And how do we keep ourselves from being so comfortable that we get stuck in a ministry that is not growing, not changing, and not producing? I mean we have to measure ourself and our ministry somehow, right? Either we end up judging ourselves based on numbers, but then we feel like that is dumb because in the back of our minds we know God has just called us to be faithful. OR we don’t judge our ministry or our performance at all and are satisfied with where we are because we don’t want to make waves, change things, take a chance, or risk not being content.
This is where we need to be content, but not satisfied…
Content with what God has given us
The church you are at, the town you are in, the other staff members, the students, the weather, the lack of people your age, are all things that you cannot control but are so often huge reasons why we find ourselves not content. God has placed you where you are and even though you might not like it you need to learn to be content with it. It might not be the size of church that you want to be at, the style of church you want to be at, the location you want to be at, or anything else that you want, and I totally understand that, I have been there, but we need to learn to be content.
God is in control! We are not in control and we need to be okay with that. He is the one who has a plan and our job is to be faithful to Him. We need to remind ourselves that God is the source of growth, the source of blessing, the source of all the things that we cannot do, what we can do is be content with what He has given us and where He has placed us.
I am NOT saying that there isn’t a time to leave a church. There are definitely unhealthy situations and times where leaving is the best thing that can happen, and I have been there as well. BUT that needs to not be taken lightly, and contentment issues are not a good reason. We need to be content where we are but…
Not satisfied with where you are at
Being satisfied with where you and your ministry are at is also a very dangerous place to be. Yes, be content with where you are physically, but NEVER find yourself satisfied at where the ministry is. Always be striving to be better, to reach more, to do bigger. One of the best ways to find contentment is to focus on what you want to accomplish and how you can be better at what you are responsible for instead of looking at the whole situation and feeling hopeless.
Never reach a place where you are satisfied and okay with cruise control. One of the common themes we see with Hall of Fame athletes is their drive and desire to always be better. I have read multiple stories of some of the all time great athletes waking up at 3am to get in hours of conditioning BEFORE practice, or staying after a double header to shoot free throws or take batting practice. Why? They were the best of the best, they were obviously doing well. Because they were never satisfied with where they were, they always wanted to be better!
So, you have 10 students or 200 students, don’t be satisfied with it strive for more! Your reaching nobody or your reaching 10 new students every time you open your doors, don’t be satisfied, strive for more!
Ministry is a difficult thing and it is so easy to fall into either of these traps, and sometimes both at the same time. Being content is hard, and I have had to fight not being content so many times throughout my ministry. Understand God has put you where you are and He has a plan. But also don’t find yourself just satisfied and okay with the way things are going, strive for better.
Be content, but not satisfied.