What follows is one of the main areas I have grown in over my years in ministry, and the main thing I need to continue to get better at. This week, we're talking about What's In Your Hand.
Exodus 4 Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”
Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A staff,” he replied.
The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”
*Only read this part if you have some kind of program in a Youth Ministry you lead this week, otherwise it's probably not relatable/interesting*
Maybe this sounds like you or someone you know...
30 minutes before Youth arrive/program starts: Print out notes for my teaching tonight, also print out cheatsheets to hand out to the Jr.Highers then cut and organize them.
25 mins before: High five worship-leader for the night, get the guitar plugged in, then sit at the computer and finalize the program for the night, including downloading funny video to start the night.
10 mins before: Turn the lights on in the gym, set up table with snacks and drinks in the foyer, get the music blasting, say hi to volunteers showing up and tell them there's nothing really they can help with.
Youth start showing up: Set up board games, flyers, and check-in table.
Program starts: Say welcome, then run the game because the guy I normally would ask couldn't come tonight, then invite a Jr.Higher to give the announcements with me because I want to make sure all the actual details get said, then let a couple of Volunteers lead the smaller game while I jump behind the computer and direct the action there for the slides needed. Stay there through the awkward transition to the band, and I fiddle with the computer and soundboard throughout the music set. Step on the stage and give my talk for the night, then throw it to the small groups to split and discuss, only I forgot to print the questions for them so I run to my laptop, print, and run the Qs to each group to finally sit down with my group and lead the discussion. The kids all leave and I get out the vacuum...
There are 15-20 different things in this situation that 15-20 different people should have been given responsibility to create and produce on their own, as part of the team. Instead, I felt it would be best if I take care of it all and walk away confused, exhausted, an uninspired at the end of the night...with most of the volunteers that expected to have a chance to do something significant in this ministry feeling the same way. Why did I do this? Because I didn't know what was in my hand.
Moses was a shepherd, that's why he had a staff in his hand, that's why when he asked about how he was going to do what God wanted the response was, "WHAT'S IN YOUR HAND?" In other words, "MOSES! Don't you know who you are and what you're made to do?"
The best thing you can do as a Youth Worker is to understand what is in your hand and focus on growing and leading well in that area.
The worst thing you can do is try to do just about everything on your own without allowing anyone else to help. You end up only giving 15% of your energy to the thing you're made to give 90% of your energy to. Imagine riding a Rodeo horse and trying to focus on the timer, the announcing, and the concession stand; you're gonna fall off that bucking bronco pretty quickly!
Doing 1 thing you're made to do is more productive than doing 4 things you're not made to do.
Here are three of the most helpful things you can do today to begin to understand what's in your hand, so the ministry you lead can thrive this year.
1- Take the tests
Some really smart people figured out how to tell you more about yourself than you've ever known, simply by having you answer 100 quick questions online. Some are much more detailed than others, I've done a ton of these and each time they have helped me focus more on what is in my hand. Myers Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Kiersey, Birkman...
2- Throw a dart
Put the things the ministry requires to keep running on a few pieces of paper and tape those up on the wall. (Leadership Development, Youth Discipleship, Teaching, Parent Connection, Admin - emails, budgets, calendars, Event Planning, yada yada yada). Or, to simplify, categorize them in bigger themes (Program, Discipleship, Admin).
Then get a dart (seriously) and throw it at the papers. Wherever this hits, you're going to focus your efforts in that area! As you're standing there holding the dart, where do you hope it lands/doesn't land? The answer to that question will direct you towards what you're meant to be doing. Then, go and get help with the other areas, quick.
And hey, for all you know the dart is actually what is meant to be in your hand! You'll find a deep love for the game of darts through this exercise and discover your true calling is to minister to people in a British Pub. Come to think of it, maybe that's what's next for me.
3- Ask other people
Ask your spouse, ask your boss or best of all, ask the volunteers that you direct each week. Ask them, "What do you think I'm made to do?" Don't be afraid to be vulnerable with your people.
*Warning: You better come into this with your guard down. You're asking for their opinion, don't shut them down for giving it to you. If they say something you think is way off, just ask why they think that, probe deeper. Or, pull the chute and abort the mission before you hurt them or they hurt you.
Moses was given a vision for his future at the burning bush.
He didn't understand how he was going to possibly accomplish that.
God's answer to him was to look in his hand, to see the shepherd's staff he was holding.
Understanding his identity helped propel him forward to lead the entire nation of Israel out of slavery.
I wonder what could happen if you understood your identity this clearly?
What's in your hand?
Up next: Using what's in your hand to create something amazing.