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The Spiritual Life of a Youth Minister

How a Catechist's Spiritual Life can put-out burn-out

Marina Thompson

on 2 May 2011

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Transcript of The Spiritual Life of a Youth Minister

The Spiritual Life of a Youth Minister How to Avoid Burnout Burnout:
-General Definition:
2a.exhaustion of physical or emotional strength usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration -Merriam-Webster Dictionary
-In Youth Ministers:
"no longer energized and enthusiastic about their ministry, describing the feelings and attitudes of persons inclined to exit the profession."-Youth Ministry That Transforms

-These feelings include:
feeling of futility
Burnout is...? Inside Look Testimony from the field "After a few years of ministry-three to be exact-the program I worked with began to seem weary. If God made me gung-ho, God also made me tired- and not because I wasn't getting enough sleep. my soul was empty. I was running on fumes, and the ministry entrusted to my care was, too. The depressing truth was that youths were not the only ones who needed more substantial faith; so did I. Here I was, supposed to be teaching them to pray, immersing them in Scripture, involving them with the poor- and when was the last time I did any of that for the sake of my soul and not for the sake of my job? god knew I was faking it and I knew I was faking it, but I didn't know how to stop faking it without dropping out altogether." - Kenda Dean, Assistant professor of youth, church, and culture at Princeton Theological Seminary How Widespread? Causes Most proned: Who? Your spiritual life is your primary defense against BURNOUT! Spiritual Fatigue Solutions Conclusion Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry Youth Ministry That Transforms Professor Robert Rice Kristin Witte, Youth Director, Diocese of Baltimore #1 3 Feelings #1 Spiritual Fatigue #1 Unsupportive Jobs #1 Isolation/ Perfectionism "There is a spiritual fatigue that can overwhelm youth ministers, which makes them prey to debilitating concerns."

found by this study:

Feelings of personal inadequacy

Experiencing Strained Family Relations

A growing loss of confidence

Feeling Unqualified for the Job

Feeling personally Disorganized

Experiencing Burnout These factors were found to be associated with and/or contributors to those reporting feeling burnt out Personal Inner strength & Congregational Initiative are the two legs that enable a youth minister to "walk and not faint". (Is 40:31) Of the two factors the youth minister only has control over his personal inner strength (except when he interviews - Prof. Rice). "Personal inner strength... counters... spiritual fatigue." Of these things which the minister can control Spiritual fatigue is the major underlying cause of Burnout. 1. I'm not Worthy-

comparing yourself with others

2. I feel Guilty-

i.e. "for missing quiet times with God"

"the purpose of guilt is to cause repentance and move you closer to God, yet misguided guilt often increases the distance."

3. I feel Alone-

"Every Christian you know and every spiritual hero you admire has been in the spiritual dumps sometime." "Almost all examples of burnout are people who end up in unsupportive jobs." "the temptation in ministry is that we want to substitute our spirituality for our ministry" "Thankfully, God being as good as he is I rarely see people get to the far extent of being burnt-out because of that." neglecting your spiritual life will eventually lead to burn out if it's not corrected Root cause is a lack of connectedness: isolation from God and other people because of a need for control/ perfectionism Over-focus on serving others leads to:
neglect of self-care
a lone ranger hero mentality
loss of perspective on personal formation and vision for ministry Of the 100 youth ministers at the annual gathering in the Diocese of Baltimore,
10 were already burnt-out
25 were on the way to burnout
75 were stressed youth ministers regularily neglect their spiritual lives. she estimated from the above gathering that the effect of this neglect on 90% of youth ministers is just stress the other 10% results in burn out. Note that there are several LEVELS of Causes:

Situations (can't please people)-->
--> false beliefs (I'm not doing enough) + negative emotions :( -->
--> ineffective behaviors (overcompensation)-->
--> exhaustion & overwhelming emotions (despair-"I can't accomplish the goal")-->
-->Burnout spiritual neglect may not lead everyone to burnout (unless God's red flags are overlooked) but everyone who burns out suffered from spiritual fatigue which usualy means some spiritual neglect was going on b/c of the root belief behind spiritual fatigue. So the primary cause of burnout should be a neglected spiritual life, right? We all know Our goal = MAKE DISCIPLES of Christ (CT 5 & 20)

Our teaching = CHRISTOCENTRIC (CT 5) and INCARNATIONAL (GDC 109,143, RM 52)

To proclaim Him we need to KNOW Him (CCC 427-429, GC 8)

HOLINESS comes FIRST and IDENTITY in Christ before MISSION (CL 8,10,16, GC 2,6)

APART FROM CHRIST WE CAN DO NOTHING, fruitless unless Rooted in the Vine (Jn 15:5)

To do MINISTRY= being a DISCIPLE of Chrit

Only through GRACE gained through PRAYER & SACRAMENTS are we able to carry out this calling (NMI 38) experiencing Burnout 8% Quite a bit 11% Very Much 14% Somewhat 22% Very Little 10% Once true, no longer 35% Never True 19% Young
Youth group = < 40 youths

Remember discouragement isn't necessarily a sign of spiritual incompetence

Keep first things first: Don't try to do God's job

Find an experienced, but neutral mentor

Realize not everyone will understand you and your ministry

Begin an affirmation file

Make a personal commitment to last

Depend on sanctifying grace

"sanctifying grace allows us to burn without becoming consumed by ministry"

Find an activity that diverts your attention away from your work

set limits to demanding job requirements and stick to them

rely on Prayer to guard you from negative self-talk. God will keep you in perfect peace when your mind is stayed on him (Isaiah 26:2)

Cultivate your sense of humor "Don't take a cruddy job just because you're desperate to get a job." Kristin Witte:
NETWORK with other youth ministers
DELEGATE to volunteers
Find COMPANIONS who can walk with you on your journey Prof. Rice:
Interview well Root Cause: spiritual fatigue
(sf) spiritual neglect
(sn) The Root! Feeling inadequate
Strained family relations
Loss of confidence
Feeling unqualified
Feeling disorganized

Experiencing burnout SF SF too busy to pray*

not depending on the Lord's strength & guidance Believing that you have to do God's Job (save every one) + please everyone Taking on too many responsibilities
"overcompensation" So many priorities in the urgent quandrant of your "to do" list that you forget to pray Keeps us real (humble) about our capabilities
teaches simplicity
gives rest and the strength of God's love
Guards our minds in His truth
Keeps our priorities in line with our goal: making disciples False Charity SN Via Nature of Burnout: Via Nature of Youth Ministry/ Effectiveness: Nature of BO= false beliefs that lead to overcompensation and debilitating emotions Nature of SL= Relationship with Christ where his power and authority helps you to see the Truth that sets you free from debilitating emotions and overcompesatory behavoirs! Nature of spiritual life (SL) HEALS nature of burnout(BO) HOORAY! Nature of YM: making disciples
Nature of SL: makes you a disciple so you know how to make disciples and can incarnationally show it! DOUG FIELDS LIST CAUSES OF DISCOURAGEMENT
Lack respect
Too many calls and emails to return
Marshmallow residue on the church carpet
miscommunication and misunderstanding
sleep deprivation b/c of a new baby
Returning the Church van w/ a dent... cause by pulling into the garage too quickly
Reurning the Church van w/ a dent... caused by the 15-year old you let drive it
conflicting expectations
No support from the senoir pastor
minimal support from parents, staff, and volunteers
Failure to please everyone
Failure to please anyone
Body parts scattered around the youth room ("who's gonna clean up this mess?")
verbal abuse
students who are difficult to like
Financial struggles
A failed program
Your paycheck
monday mornings
A 24 hr lock-in on the calendar
Youth ministry not valued as higly as other church ministries The Primary Solution How the spiritual life defends against burout: -Also , Burnout:
is a response to repeated emotional strain
has four stages: enthusiasm, stagnation, frustration, apathy
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