During Christmas and New Years our offices are closed for the most part here at the church. This allows time for us as staff members to recharge and get a little rest. It also provides a time for evaluation. As a evaluation addict, I spend a ton of time thinking about how we can do things better, what needs reorganized, and what we might do differently.
Over the break I spent a great deal of time thinking about our programs. We are altering our formats a little by using a new curriculum for small groups and using that curriculum to also shape our Wednesday nights. I also spent a lot of time thinking of fun things for the students to do while on break, though not much materialized.
What all this thinking did was to help me realize that I do a lot of thinking. It got me thinking about what my role really is here at the church. I think that it is so easy to lose yourself in certain roles when it comes to ministry, especially student ministry. As I looked back at the past year, I realized that I have been spending so much time as the organizer and planner, that I may have missed the mark on minister. I realize that part of being a minister is the planning and vision casting, but another part of ministry is the actual ministering. I realized that many of my conversations with students stay on the surface. Spiritual and life things come up, but I must admit that it is not natural for me to ask spiritual questions of my students.
For a while I found it important to establish relationships with the students before venturing into the deep waters of spiritual advice and especially spiritual correction. Now I find that I have those relationships and need to initiate those conversations. Much of this goes back to asking what it means to be a minister. I have a whole lot of roles in our ministry–teacher, planner, janitor, driver, friend, and counselor. However, the most important thing that I can do is to help my students grow in their faith. The other roles need to serve this role, not be in addition to, and especially not take away from it.
I want to think about this next year from this angle, what do I want students to know me as. Do I want students to know me as a fun event planner, a good speaker, a friend, or as someone who helped them grow in their faith? Hopefully this question will help shape the year’s priorities and practices.