Guest Post: The Sabbath is Even More Important Than You Think

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Do you make your day off an uncompromising priority?

Or do you cheat too often, resting only when you “can”? Most youth workers report that they fail to take a regular weekly Sabbath.

And all of the time, they fail to understand the consequences that stem from that decision.

There’s a reason God commands us to rest. He knows we can’t function without it. You know why I don’t work on Saturday? For the same reason that I don’t kill people or provide false witness. This is too often lost on church professionals, but the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments, and God was as serious about this one as he was about the others. 

Remember this. Skipping your Sabbath is absolutely Biblically disobedient.

Just in case that’s not cause enough for you: People who rest are more effective workers. Try this article or a dozen others just like it. People who take time to rest and recharge simply get more done. That means there’s an excellent chance you’ll actually get more done in a fully-charged 40-hour week than if you run yourself ragged.

Sabbath-skipping is the best way to ensure you burn out of the ministry. In my interviews with former youth workers, 80% report that they didn’t take a regular Sabbath.

I’m sure there are important things that are keeping you away from your day off, but I promise you they are not more important than your career and your ministry.

Your body-clock is going to take a break anyway. Maybe you won’t take a day off, but you’ll almost certainly make it up in other ways. You might take a nap during the week or spend a few hours zoned-out and cruising YouTube.

Whatever you do, remember that the Sabbath isn’t just some suggestion from a blogger; it’s a commandment from God, for your protection and benefit.

What are things that keep you from taking a Sabbath?What do YOU need to do to make keeping this commandment a priority?

ImageAaron Helman is on a mission to help end the epidemic of youth worker burnout. He writes Smarter Youth Ministry to help youth workers with their biggest frustrations – things like managing time and stress. He is also the youth minister at Firehouse Youth Ministries in South Bend, Indiana.

Guest Post: Striving Towards God, Not Goals

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It seems like about every other week I find myself saying something like, “if I can just make it through _________”. Fill in the blank.  It could be next week, the next event, the next hour.  What I continuously realize (and continually forget) is that getting through that ‘next thing’ does not put me at an end.  There’s always a next thing.  This caught up with me a couple of weeks ago.  Our administrative assistant at church had left, and so the church was essentially being run by 3 people: the custodian, the senior pastor, and me.  This meant a lot of extra work to keep things running, including being behind a desk most of an 8 hour day.  Now, if you know me at all, you know that sitting behind a desk will slowly kill me.  I am not a desk worker.  I tolerate desk work to get things done when they need to be, but I’m much more comfortable with other people around, or out doing something.  So after two weeks or so of doing essentially two people’s jobs, I was tired.  I love doing ministry, and I wasn’t ready to quit or anything, but I was worn out.  I looked back on those weeks and realized that I had something I hadn’t done in quite some time.  I had made youth ministry into a job.
For our purposes:  Job  ‘J-ah-b’ n.  “a list of activities to be completed in such a manner as to form a cohesive end product”  (yes, I made up this definition)
What had happened was that I had boiled youth ministry down to a list of tasks that needed to be completed so I could move onto the next thing.  It was three bullet points on my ‘to-do’ list and nothing more.  Once I had written a short (not awesome) lesson, touched base (rather blandly) with a couple students, and made sure the next trip hadn’t fallen apart I moved on to working on my next task.  And that was youth ministry for the week.  Really?
I’m sure most of you readers see the problem with this mindset, but don’t we do this with so much more than just youth ministry?  Maybe you’re reading this and you’re not a minister, and you think to yourself, “man, I’m glad I have a job that’s just a job”.  But what about your ministry? This is actually where I had my eyes opened. I thought about my wife and her ministry.  She doesn’t get to turn ministry into a job because it’s not her job.  She has a job where she ministers.  She has a home where she ministers.  She has a life where she ministers.  Here I was taking the whole of my ministry and diminishing it down to 3 or 4 bullet points.
 
I think we are all prone to this.  We all have our Christian checklist.  Go to church, read your bible, pray, give to the poor, etc.  We have probably all boiled down our lives in Christ to a few bullet points and have made ourselves feel better than other when we complete our list before/better than others.  But ministry is not a list.  Ministry, like worship, is a lifestyle.  Ministry doesn’t finish, it doesn’t end.  It’s funny how, in the end, this notion energizes me more than it tires me out.  I feel like knowing it doesn’t end allows me strive towards God instead of a goal.
 
In the end, we hired a new administrative assistant, and while I still say “if I can just get through _______”, I know that if I continue to strive towards God, that ministry follows.
 
ImageMatt Hantelman has been doing youth ministry full time since 2005.  He is an avid musician and gamer, and loves to love people.  He makes his home in southern Indiana where he lives with his wife and two dogs.  If you ever meet him, be prepared for one of the biggest hugs you’ve ever received. You can read his blog at http://bigtallguy.wordpress.com/ .

Confessions of a BigStuf Intern

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This past summer I had the amazing privilege of serving as an Intern at BigStuf camps down in Panama City Beach.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Must have been a real tough time being on the beach this summer.” Well….yes.  Yes it was.  This summer may have been the most intense, challenging summer of my life.

In case you are unaware of BigStuf, it is an incredible organization with the prime intention of creating incredible camp environments designed to host church youth groups.  I came into the experience having no idea what to expect of BigStuf, much less this internship.  Let me tell you, by the end of the summer I was running completely by the power of the Holy Spirit and Red Bull.  My day would start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 1:00 a.m. the next morning, if not later.

Much to my surprise, most of my efforts were spent helping the camp run, essentially.  I ran cameras, ProPresenter, cash registers and soundboards.  Coming in to the camp I expected lots of one-on-one interactions with students where I would be fielding the ‘tough’ questions and helping them get to know Jesus in a deeper way.  While there was time to do that, it was not why the Lord brought me to BigStuf, which was somewhat of a hard pill to swallow at first.

However, when returning home from my summer away, I got to sit down with an incredible man from my church who had been praying for me all summer.  As we caught up, I told him about the work I did.  In light of my expectations, he laid a scriptural smackdown on me.  He brought me to Luke 5:1-3.  In this scene, Jesus is swarmed by people wanting…needing to hear his message.  He sees a boat sitting nearby, Peter’s boat, and asks Peter to take him out in it to preach to the people.

This was my job all summer.  I was manning the oars, if you would.  I was handling the details, the behind the scenes work, so that Jesus’ message could be made clear.  Jesus did not ask Peter to stand and say anything in this moment; he simply asked him to man the boat.  While I could imagine Peter feeling slightly discouraged, as I remember myself feeling at times this past summer, it was from these humble beginnings that Jesus would use him to play a ginormous part in the spreading of the Gospel and the formation of the Church.  The man who steadied the boat would go on to write 1st and 2nd Peter.

Don’t neglect your work behind the scenes.  Sometimes it is from these seemingly menial efforts that the Lord will teach, refine, and prepare us the most for the work He has prepared for us.

Image Ryan Harvey is a recent graduate from Indiana University’s Kelly School of Business (legit). He is a musician, blogger, and avid bull-rider (okay, that last one is made up).  You can follow Ryan @reharvey and read his blog here. He also has a sexy nose-ring.