A Leader’s Loss Of Passion
If I could give only one gift to the youth leaders of today, it would be a fresh dose of passion for the calling we are privileged to live out. It was once said, “The worst bankruptcy in the world is the leader who has lost his passion.” And now many years into the youth ministry journey, I agree with these words…but find the answer to this challenge a bit more elusive. How do you reignite passion for the sacred challenge of impacting today’s youth culture for Christ?
I easily “believe something” about youth ministry. I bet you do too. But often, as my passion wanes, I admit to myself that I’ve lost a “sense of conviction” about my ministry. And there is a world of difference. Belief agrees with the facts, but conviction brings persistent action to my belief. So let me reach inside myself and tell you a couple of things I do when I sense my own passion about youth ministry beginning to wane.
- I remind myself that true identity isn’t about “finding” myself. Instead, it’s about “creating” myself.
And with that simple realization, I’m reminded that my passion is a choice, not an emotion. It’s often said that the tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon—but that most of us wait so long to truly begin it. So when my “passion tank” dips low, I summon the will power to be bigger than my junior high emotional mood swings. I reach inside myself and CHOOSE to keep investing myself into teenagers, no matter how phony the enemy tries to make me feel. I refuse to allow the growing emotional blahness to overtake me. After all, I can always ACT MYSELF into a right feeling far quicker than I can FEEL MYSELF into a right action.
- I spend some extra time with a student I find motivational and guard myself from heavy interaction with “the depleters.”
For example, an eternally “needy” student came up to me after church and inwardly, I wanted to run the other way. Relate? After a few depressing minutes of conversation, my eyes caught another student who is sharp and spiritually growing. For my own good, I slipped away from the first conversation and connected with the second student. We firmed up a Coke appointment this week and I walked away, internally smiling again. I’ve learned that too many “EGR’s” (Extra Grace Required) in youth ministry can suck the passion out of even the best leaders.
I wish passion for youth ministry and teenagers were a vitamin we could take regularly. But the tragedy I often see is that after a person has done youth ministry long enough to have wisdom to give, they unplug because they no longer “feel it.” I refuse to allow leadership’s “worst bankruptcy” to shorten my run. So I’ll keep “acting my way” into passion and knowing that heaven is celebrating my guts.