Categories
youth ministry

Second Fiddle

Last night, a co-worker posted a link on Facebook to a Mint.com blog post called, “Top 10 Things That Determine Happiness.

That post resonated with me because a lot of people in my life are unhappy because they don’t want to be happy. They seem to have a co-dependency with angst. And they tend to take it out on me because I’m a generally happy person.

Here’s a couple of my favorite parts of the list:

No.10 – Having a short memory

Are you one to hold grudges? Do you need the jaws of life to pry forgiveness out of you? Well, don’t expect these attributes to contribute to your happiness or to your overall health for that matter. This ability to forgive and forget, to go with the flow, is frequently cited by researchers of centenarians as being a key factor in their ability to live to see their 100th birthday.

No.5 – Developing a skill

According to psychology professor Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl, the route to happiness is simple enough, “Live it, don’t buy it.” This is especially relevant in the modern world, where instant gratification can be purchased — but only to a point, before it hits a wall.

He quotes a professional base jumper, who says, “You’ve got to have the passion to do your time. If you haven’t done the time, you just can’t get there.” He goes on to argue that only by paying one’s dues through time, effort, devotion, and experience can we, “develop the rich experiences that make life meaningful.”

No.1 – Liking yourself

Liking oneself is arguably the principal characteristic of happy people. It’s been revealed in study after study after study: happy people like themselves. They think they’re pretty great people. They have high self-esteem, meaning they think highly of their own intelligence, they consider themselves to have strong ethical standards and to have far fewer prejudices than others.

If I could be so bold to add one to the list, for youth workers, it would be:

No.11 – Embrace your role as second fiddle

Being satisfied in your ministry role will mean not being the most important person on your church staff. Ultimately, your role is to elevate the overall ministry of the church. When the student ministry is successful it compliments the overall mission of the congregation. The position of second fiddle is nothing to be ashamed of as it often earns many of the perks of the person in charge, but with little of the pressure of being the star. Conversely, the least satisfied youth workers tend to carry an attitude of, “I don’t play second fiddle to nobody, I’m a leader!” This disconnect between their role in the organization and where they see their role leads to dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

What do you think? Is a key to happiness in youth ministry being satisfied in your role that you’ll never be the star?

Categories
Christian Living Church Leadership

Giving and Receiving at Church

Photo by Vintage Collective via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Confession: There are times when I am frustrated with my church.

  • To the point of not wanting to go.
  • To the point of wanting to give up on organized church.
  • To the point where I think the action of attending church may actually be hindering my ability to live out the Gospel in my life.
  • To the point of wanting to withhold myself, my money, my children, my thoughts, and even my prayers.

This causes me to search myself, my motivations for the action of going to a church, and even what Scripture does or does not say about what goes on at church.

Lately, at the bottom of that barrel I am left with this thought:

Going to church is about giving and receiving simultaneously like the heart pumping blood in both directions. When I’m dissatisfied I am either unwilling to give of myself or I’m unwilling to receive ministry created for me (as part of the congregation). Conversely, I will be most satisfied with the corporate worship experience when I go with my heart pumping a desire to both give an receive.

In other words, I think too much and I must be more simplistic in this exchange with the church. I need to discipline myself to give what I can (in its various forms, not exclusive to money) and receive what I can. (in its various forms, not exclusive to teaching)

It’s a two-fold relationship. When I go more needy to receive I don’t go with a heart to give of myself. When I go needy to give of myself I don’t go with a heart to receive.

Questions for Reflection

I’m not accusing anyone of ever being dissatisfied with their church. I’m only confessing that sometimes I am. But if you find yourself discontent, here are some questions for reflection that have helped me.

  • What is the thing that drives you nuts, that has become a block between you “truly coming to worship God?
  • What category would you place that thing in? Personal preference? Desire for excellence? Biblical accuracy? Effectiveness? Something else?
  • Is that really a big deal or do you just have an attitude problem?
  • Could you chose contentedness with that issue if it never changes?
  • Where areas are you contributing to your church?
  • If a leader thinks about you, would they label you as someone who contributes significantly to the vision and mission of the church? (Not just money, but your actions and heart for the congregation.)
  • Are  you comparing what you want with what you’ve seen at another church? Is that a fair comparison?
  • Is the root of your dissatisfaction a personal sin issue that is manifesting itself as dissatisfaction with something at church?
  • Are you seeking out relationships with people in your congregation or are you waiting for those relationships to pursue you?
  • Are you just being a jerk?

This is what I know

I know that Jesus expects us to live inter-dependently with a community of other believers. As I read the New Testament I never read about the early church being a place of comfort, cushy chairs, mono-cultural, or without tension. Instead, I see a church which gave of itself fully, which recognized that some people were mature while others were immature, was as functional and dysfunctional as a family, and was all about giving and receiving fully of themselves.