What Youth Ministers And Trampoline Springs Have In Common
I was dismantling a trampoline the other day. Why would anyone ever dismantle such a glorious instrument of joy, you ask? Let me explain. It has a lot to do with you actually.
Last school year our student ministry had home-based small groups, and I hosted a high school small group at my home. As students arrived, they spent the first half hour or so dispersing around our house for some hang out time. Some hung out in the kitchen (near the food), some went to the family room for some Just Dance, and some threw a football in the street out front. But each week, the trampoline was one of the main places students would go to have fun before Bible study.
The trampoline provided an awesome source of fun for our students. What I failed to do was to keep an eye on exactly how many high schoolers got on the trampoline at one time.
As a result, the springs took a beating each week. There came a poiint recently where I realized they had to be replaced. And as I took each spring off the frame the other day, the bucket full of stretched out springs kind of told the sad tale.
As I dropped each spring into the bucket, I couldn't help but think about “worn out springs” in ministry. I'm nearing 20 years in fulltime student ministry and I've learned that if I don't keep an eye out on the “load” on my springs, they could very well end up stretched out and ineffective.
I understand this is all under the Spirit's enabling, but there are things I can do to make sure I'm continually “bouncing back” from the pressures of the ministry.
Bounce-back #1: Keep track of the weight you're carrying.
Just like letting those students crowd onto that trampoline, we can sometimes lose track of just how much we're allowing to rest on our shoulders. Before we know it, we've said yes to too much and we're experiencing unecessary stress. Make a list of everything you're currently doing, then break that list into two columns with these headings: “What I love doing/what I'm good at” & “What someone else could be doing”.
Bounce-back #2: Don't overlook your spiritual needs.
Had I been more attentive sooner, I might have been only replacing a few springs instead of hauling the whole trampoline to the dump. How well are you feeding your own spirit? What do you need right now to regain a freshness in your walk with Christ? Have you gotten lax on guarding your day off? If you're married, are you still dating your spouse? What needs to change in your schedule to allow God's Spirit to recharge you?
Bounce-back #3: Check for rust regularly.
As I took that trampoline apart, I noticed that rust had begun to form in places that weren't out in the open and easily seen. Whether its unsettled friction between you and a students' parent, or another staff member, or your spouse, tend to it immediately. Remove the rust caused by an unforgiving spirit, pride, comparisons to others, and so on, so that the ministry frame is stronger.