the middle...

What do you like to do when you go home from work? Sunday nights, Wednesday nights? What does a youth minister do when you go home from the LONG days of hanging out with students? Me? I go home and I watch my TV. I turn into a starch and plop down on my couch. I find myself loving TV shows. Normally, if I watch one or two shows of something, I am generally hooked. This is what I do with my spare time. I am a couch potato.
People always think that the life of a youth minister is glamorous and hollywood, but we all know it isn't. So I am asking, what do you do with your spare time? Some play xbox live, others read, some exercise, others exercise by eating, some watch sports, some play sports, some find ways to hang out with their students, some want to get away from their students.

The reason I am rambling on about this random topic, is because I found myself becoming mad while watching TV last night. I saw the season finale of American Idol, and the person who SHOULD HAVE WON (sorry, little left over frustration) didn't. I turned off the tv and deleted the program from my DVR. I was so mad! and WHY was I so mad? I didn't vote, I didn't do anything but watch and get frustrated with something I had absolutely nothing invested in.

Usually, in youth ministry we can get so invested that we let our emotions get in front of the path. I have seen it before, even in my own ministry, where I let my ego-driven, emotional self get in the lead of our ministry. I also found that the direct correlation from this was I thought I was getting enough God by doing lesson planning and reading books by CS Lewis and Rob Bell. The thing is, we ALWAYS have to make time to spend time with God. My frustration over last night's show caused me to lose sleep. That's CRAZY!

When you have some down time, take some time to make it uplifting with God. Journal, pray, read scripture, memorize scripture, and just take some time to deflate and lay it all down in front of Christ. If you do, great! Keep up the good work! If you don't do it enough and keep saying you want to, THEN DO IT! GET OFF YOUR BUTT, DOWN ON YOUR KNEES AND TALK WITH GOD! I bounce back and forth. I go from awesome for a few weeks, then it dwindles to every few days, to once a month, to every Sunday Night and Wednesday night. When we work at a church we need to be poured into doubly. First we must be poured into on our own time with OUR relationship with Christ, then we move to getting poured into AGAIN for the students. LOTS OF WORK!

I am here to encourage you. Keep doing what you do best, being a light of Christ to the students who need it. Don't be afraid to call a student out on something (in a one on one setting) if you feel something is breaking or fracturing their relationship with Christ. When the work day is over, spend time with your family or friends outside of the church. Try not to bring your work home with you. It can get messy sometimes, but drawing boundaries and making sure you and your relationship with Christ are right first is what draws more water from the well.

Share below some techniques or secrets you have to have a quiet time with God or just share what you do when you get home from work. How do you deflate from working with students and meetings at church ALL DAY?


fattychris said...

I feel you, Mark. I generally unwind by watching shows on Netflix or playing Xbox. Sometimes I read or work out, but generally I sit in front of the tv, too. I have noticed that I get angry with myself for not spending a lot of extra time with God, but I quickly justify it by saying that I need downtime. Funny, I think Jesus mentioned something about finding rest in Him.

I do try to spend as much time with my students as I can. I go to plays and musicals, movie nights, dinners, lunches... whatever works. I believe that spending time with people is how to minister to them. Preaching or teaching, alone, will not reach most people. I know I would be a better ambassador of Christ if I spend more time with Him. I just need to get off the couch and do it.

Mark Ashby said...

Chris it is so true! Ministering and being present in the lives of our students is possibly the best way to minister, relationally (outside the teaching and preaching). What I get at, you also touch on though, we need to get out and pray and talk with God for ourselves too. That is vital, because we can't provide water from a dry well!

CJ said...

During my years in student ministry I pretty much had no time for anything but ministry, family and time with God. I had to be focused. I have found it much tougher to "take time with Jesus" now that I have so much free time. Ironic, huh? But you are right, Mark- we have to work at it. And I'll pray for you,dude- because SCOTTY is the man! :) Blessings!

Corey Gibson said...

I think the biggest down time thing that I do is prayer/worship (listening and singing) and surfing the internet for thing related to youth ministry and the church culture [lol, do we still use the surfing the internet???]

I do think that pastor/leaders confuse personal study/worship/prayer time with "ministry time." Like when they are studying for a sermon/message. There is a HUGE difference and ultimate time will tell that the private/personal study time is lacking.

ps... YOU KNOW you like and secretly wanted Scotty McCreey to win. HAHA!

Inside Nate's Head said...

I play with my kids, read to them, and wrestle. We do not watch TV while they are awake and we watch Hulu Plus to wind down before bed.
I find that keeping Bibles nearby has helped me greatly I read a verse or two as a spiritual snack every time I pass a Bible. Thinking about what I just read is a huge help to keep my mind focused on God.

Noah said...

Mark, I think we are all in this boat. While nothing helps me unwind like working out or running, some times I'm just too wiped out to go for a run or hit the gym. But I really enjoy just throwing my ipod in to some worship music or a sermon and just walking. It helps me unwind and refocus!

Thanks for the post!

Tim said...

Thanks for sharing your post Mark. I too find that I go back and forth with media consumption and spiritual formation.

I'm a bit fortunate because since Lost ended, I haven't been hooked on any shows. And I haven't got hooked because I avoid sitcoms and shows because I know I'll get hooked (I know how circular this sounds).

After youth groups, I tend to journal or read before falling asleep. On other nights after family time, exercise, yoga, writing take up my energy and the positivity from that feels good.

I find that I watch more television when I am upset or disgruntled because I either need a distraction or an escape. Both are vey unhealthy and deplete my prayer life, family life, etc. when left unchecked.

In honesty, this makes feel a little better because I have no idea who Scotty is or the runner up. Which I know threatens my pop-culture cred but I compensate because I like/listen to Death Cab for Cutie (new album Codes and Keys releases next Tuesday :)

Benjer said...

What I do to make sure I spend devotional time with God on a regular basis? It's my first office task every day. The people I work with know that when my door is closed the first thing in the morning, that I'm spending time with God. It's ALWAYS so tempting to answer a few emails first, but there's really nothing that can't wait a few minutes.

What do I do to decompress after a busy day? Exactly what I'm doing right now. I'll take a look at my favorite news websites, read a few blog posts, and maybe write one or two.

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