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A Tip For Keeping Your Performance In Perspective

A Tip For Keeping Your Performance In Perspective

As a youth worker who is pulled in a million different directions, making sure we’re as effective as we can be is a huge priority. We simply don’t have the luxury of wasted time and/or energy. But how do we maintain balance in our evaluation? How do we make sure we're listening to the right voices? Over the years, I’ve used a pretty simple analogy that as helped me maintain my focus on being effective. 

I wanted to pass it along to you in hopes that it would help you think about evaluating your performance in a new light.

Years ago I attended a business training seminar where a speaker gave me this great little nugget of wisdom: 

  • 10% of the people you work for will LOVE you and what you do, regardless.

  • Another 10% will NEVER approve of what you do, no matter how good it is. 

  • 80 % of the people you work for are fair minded. They appreciate good work, and recognize when your work is below par.

As a young youth pastor in my first church, I quickly realized these percentages played out almost perfectly in working with parents and students. Over the last twenty-five years of doing youth ministry, they haven’t always been in exactly the same proportions, but they've been close. And it has helped me think about how I minister. 

I did something to help me visualize these percentages. Maybe it will help you, too. I found marbles that represent each of these categories.

  • Eight white marbles, 

  • A dark colored marble, 

  • And one brightly colored one.

I keep them in a place where I can always see them. They help me have a visual reminder of the makeup of our churches, our students, and their parents.

The colorful marble is the great equalizer. It helps us remember that there are people who think we are awesome even when it sometimes doesn’t seem that way. (It’s is also a humbling reminder that on those days when we think we’re the greatest youth worker in the world, the majority of people don’t see it that way!)

The dark marble is also useful. If someone is constantly giving us a hard time about our programs and the quality of our work, regardless of what we do to change or improve, chances are that person WILL NEVER much care for us or what we do. Again, the visual of the marbles keeps us focused on the fact that while severe critics can dominate our thinking, they will always represent a very small portion of our church and youth group.

The white marbles represent the most realistic view of how our work affects people. Most of our students and their parents appreciate it when we do good work, and notice when we miss the mark. This group is where you will get the best feedback as to your effectiveness as a youth leader, and the effectiveness of your programs. 

My little bag of ten marbles has helped me keep a proper perspective on my ministry. 

It reminds me not to buy in to everything the raving fans or harshest critics say or think about me. The response of the 80% will always be the best litmus test as to how I'm doing. 


About The Author

Richard Parker

Richard Parker

Richard Parker is the resident youth ministry guru at YM360. Richard has served as a youth minister for the past 41 years. ("Shockingly, he was Les' youth minister yet STILL decided to stay in ministry"!) He is currently co-pastor and student minister at a new church plant, Branches Church, in Russellville, AL. Richard serves as a special projects editor and staff writer. Richard wrote YM360's "REACH: A 6 Lesson Study on the Book of Psalms" and has contributed on all of YM360's ongoing curriculum projects. He's also written many of YM360's free lessons, devotions, and blog posts. He and his wife Amy have two daughters, Lauren and Leah, one granddaughter and one grandson.