Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. − Proverbs 4:4
There are two types of people.
The first type of person values a clean manger above all else. Have you seen what oxen do to a stable? Yikes. You have to feed them. Clean them. Keep them healthy. And when you feed an ox, let’s just say it necessitates more cleanup. A lot more.
The clean-manger crowd values sanitary order above all else.
Ah, but what’s the tradeoff? Look back at the proverb. The clean-manger crowd sacrifices an abundant harvest for cleanliness. The clean-manger crowd says, “We’re fine where we are. We know we could have more, but then the manger would get all yucky. And then what would we do?”
The other kind of person tolerates a manger that at times can get pretty gross. They know that having oxen means extra time spent in management. They have to be fed. And kept healthy. And cleaned up after. But the messy-manger crowd is OK with this.
Why? Because they know that a stable that will sometimes be a mess is the price you pay for an abundant harvest. And the harvest is worth the chaos.
Your youth ministry is the manger. And you have to ask yourself, are you a clean-manger person? Or a messy-manger person?
The clean-manger crowd doesn’t take chances. Or try new things. Or challenge the status quo. The clean-manger youth worker says, “We’ve always done it this way. It’s what we know.” The clean-manger youth worker avoids the hard conversations with students, parents, volunteers, or senior staffers. The clean-manger youth worker stays inside the comfort of their church, content to take the path of least resistance.
The clean-manger youth worker values order, predictability, and comfort above growth and ministry impact.
Not messy-manger youth workers. They take chances and live with the consequences. They evaluate their programming and methodology, and no matter how long it’s been done, if it’s not working, it’s gone. A messy-manger youth worker will stop at nothing to reach teenagers for Christ, accepting the headaches that sometimes come with setting lofty goals. They’ll wade through the muck of hard conversations knowing that the return is worth it.
There are two types of youth workers. And only one type will lead the church to have a greater impact on a lost world.