Seth Godin, Success, and Failure in Youth Ministry
I love Seth Godin's blog. The marketing/creative genius gives these great daily snippets of genius in small, easily digestible chunks. And in so many cases, his thoughts are very applicable to youth ministry. This morning's post was one that I found to be very interesting when viewed through the lens of your youth ministry.Godin's post is entitled "Trying to Please":
Who is your marketing or your product or your effort trying to please? Every campaign that I've ever seen fail has failed for precisely the same reason: it pleases the wrong person. Think about it... it wouldn't have launched if it hadn't pleased the boss or the client, right? Pleasing the wrong person meant failure. The same thing is true on a deeper level in your career choice or what you write or what you say or what you sell or how you sell it: if you are working hard to please the wrong people, you'll fail. Does that critic or that buyer or that spouse or that girlfriend or that investor really matter as much as you think they do?
Wow. How simple. How profound. It begs the question: Who are you trying to please with your youth ministry?
If you could stop for a moment and evaluate your efforts, and honestly ask the question--Who is my youth ministry trying to please?--what would the answer be? Is your ministry aimed at trying to please the senior pastor? Your students' parents? Your church as a whole? What about yourself? Or your spouse? Or other youth leaders in your network?
Now . . . I'm going to give all of us the benefit of the doubt. I don't know your specific circumstance, but I imagine if you're working in youth ministry, you're doing so out of a response to a call God has put on your life. From a big picture perspective, I trust that your ministry efforts are aimed at pleasing God . . . as they should be. But I bet we're all guilty of those times when we lose our focus, and our efforts are spent not on pleasing God but instead are wasted trying to please others.
If we're honest, I bet there is a program, or an initiative, or an event, or an interaction, or maybe even a talk that was not wholly motivated by pleasing God but was instead focused on pleasing someone else. And, as Godin alludes to, I bet at least some of these times ended in failure. We serve at God's pleasure. We serve as a result of a unique and personal call He put on our lives. And He has entrusted us with much.
In a time when we measure success by a wide variety of factors, the only metric that should motivate us is seeking our Father's pleasure. If we can do that, we will have "ultimate" success . . . the only kind that really matters.
- If we're talking about pleasing God with our ministries, what does that look like? How are we to serve? How does it affect our programming and our philosophy?
- Why is it so easy to lose focus and give our efforts toward pleasing others instead of God?