You may be your ministry’s worst enemy. 

A few weeks ago, in part one, we discussed one way you may be hurting your ministry. Today we are going to explore another way that you may cause harm.

You may be your ministry’s own worst enemy by failing to invest in your personal development.

I think we, as leaders have several reasons why we fail to work on our development. 

Maybe you are too busy. 

You have one event, after another. You have a youth ministry activity quickly followed by a church-wide event. There doesn’t seem to be enough time! So what gets ignored? Your development.

You spend all your time pouring into others, and now you lack the energy for yourself.

You lead volunteer training, student leadership meetings, and are the chaplain for the local high school team. After pouring out so much to other people, you may want to do nothing. 

You may lack the resources. 

If you are at a smaller church, you may have no budget. You may be the entirety of your youth ministry’s budget. For you, I would say, there are ways.

You do not feel the need for self-development. 

Sometimes people think they have arrived. When others look to you for advice or guidance, it can be easy for you to begin to believe that you have all the answers.

This thinking is far from the truth. I see it the other way. The more people lean on you, the more you must seek your personal development.

When you fail to seek development, you are not only failing yourself. You are letting the ministry and others around you down.


Seek out a network. 

Ministry can be done alone, for a short time.

Yes, you can run a year or two of ministry by yourself. But doing youth ministry alone, without a sense of genuine community around you, will lead to an unhealthy ministry and steer you towards burnout. 

You need others to support you. You need others to remind you that you matter. A network can play this role. The other youth pastors in your network can serve to refresh your spirits and give you a sense of community.

Each member of a youth pastor network brings a variety of backgrounds and ideas. Collectively, there is a gold mine of experience in your group. And what better place to look for advice than in a trusted group of your peers?

In a network, you find refreshment, community, and ideas. For those of you from small churches with a minimal budget, networks are cheap or free!


Books, blogs, magazines, and devotionals.

There are many excellent reading materials out there. Find a book or blog that speaks to the area or areas that you need the most significant development. 

When reading a blog, be sure to sign-up for their emails. And remember, do your research. Does this person seem to know what they are talking about? Does this writer have credible experience?

New to youth ministry, I recommend Your First Two Years In Youth Ministry by Doug Fields.

Looking for personal development, check out The Self-Aware Leader by Terry Linhart.

Need some help refining how you can measure success in ministry, read Deep & Wide by Andy Stanley

Find a mentor. 

One thing that I know for sure, there is someone else out there that has more experience than you. 

There are always people out there who have more or different experiences than you. They can be a valuable resource.

Maybe the mentor challenges you or gives you a different perspective you have never considered. Regardless, they add value to you. Find a mentor.

Listen to podcasts. 

Podcasts are like blogs, free and come in a wide variety.

There are many great podcasts out there. Listen to a few of them when you are driving, mowing, doing laundry, or cleaning the youth room. 

The fact that they are free makes podcasts an excellent resource for those who have little to no budget.

Youth Ministry Institute is currently developing a podcast. We believe it will be a great, free resource for you.

Sign-up for coaching and training

Sometimes we need more focused attention.

Whether you are just beginning in ministry, or are feeling stuck, coaching is a great option. With coaching, you get the focused attention of someone with great insight. 

Coaches challenge thinking, question decisions, and force you to consider all the options. They do these things in an attempt to help you develop and to define what you are attempting to accomplish more clearly.

A coach will bring fresh eyes, perspective, and experience to your situations. 

Youth Ministry Institute offers customizable and proven coaching with some of the best coaches out there. Contact us if you need more info.

For small churches, with little budget, do not be afraid to reach out to us. We have options for you as well.

Your development as a leader, matters. Focusing on your learning does not make you selfish. Instead, it makes you wise. It makes you humble. It makes you the kind of leader that we all want to follow.

Rev. Brian Lawson is the Director of Leadership Development and Client Services for YMI and has served in youth ministry since 2004. He also serves as a pastor in the Florida Conference of the UMC. Brian holds a Master of Ministry with a focus in organizational culture, team-based leadership, change, conflict, and peacemaking from Warner University. In addition to his degrees from Warner, he studied Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. Click the social links below to engage with Brian.

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