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09 raise the bar

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  • 1. R A IS E T HE B A R from Doug Fields FOR STARTERS TRAINING on the GO Where in your ministry Raise the bar is a word picture that means “improve what you do.” Or put could you be setting higher another way, it means to raise the standard of what’s currently acceptable. expectations? Raising the An often-repeated saying that further defines this word picture is, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always bar? Don’t know what I got.” Another is, “If you’re not moving forward, you’re probably moving mean? Read on. backward.” I believe these are realities in youth ministry. You’ll likely find your IN T HE TRENCHE S ministry to students heading backward if you don’t occasionally raise the bar to new heights.I serve alongside a small-group When I think about my volunteers caring enough to raise the bar inleader named Kasey, who is a veteran youth ministry, two things come to mind: (1) identifying their passionsyouth worker. She has been a small- and (2) identifying their energy. For example, I need them to ask, “Am Igroup leader for five years and really passionate about the areas where I’m currently serving?” Or uponseems to really enjoy her role. She is evaluation, “Do I find myself involved in this way because it’s where I’mdedicated, punctual, and prepared, needed or because I’ve settled for someone’s expectations?” I want volunteersand she knows her job description. to discover whether they’re putting their whole heart and effort into theSounds like a dream youth worker, ministry or whether they’re just coasting along doing what they’ve alwaysright? Well, in some ways, Kasey is done. Improvement requires evaluation. If you truly want to raise the bar inideal. But Kasey has a lot more to your leadership, you need to spend time evaluating these two areas of youroffer than what she currently gives. ministry: passion and effort.She is a brilliant writer, has a passionfor Scripture, and possesses a real Let’s look at those two words: passion and effort. Are you passionate aboutunderstanding of students. But for where you serve in your youth ministry? Passion might be defined as “asome reason she is content with powerful emotion, strong desire, or boundless enthusiasm.” Does that defi-simply showing up at our midweek nition describe the way you feel about your ministry? If not, then raisingprogram, leading her small group the bar may be easy for you. Take some time to find that one area of min-through a study, and then going istry that stirs up an unusual amount of emotion, desire, or enthusiasmhome. Sadly, she puts in the minimum within you. Then work to define a role that would allow you to find thateffort and is semi-passionate about “boundless enthusiasm.”being a small-group leader. If the definition of passion does describe your current ministry role, youNow, I don’t want to turn Kasey might have a tougher job raising the bar. You may need to examine yourinto a workaholic and burn her out, current ministry and take a risk with a new role. For instance, if you lovebut I’d love to see her raise the barby exploring new areas of ministry, being involved in camps or retreats, maybe a next step would be to leadchallenging herself in deeper ways, and plan your ministry’s next trip instead of merely, well…participating.and taking an occasional risk within Think differently. So what if it’s never been done that way before? Dreamour ministry. I want her to remain as big. Anything is possible when you are truly passionate about something.a small-group leader because she Now, what about effort? What kind of time and energy do you currentlyis great at it, but I also want her to pour into your ministry role? Are you the type of volunteer who is alwaysmove beyond what she has known preparing “on the fly,” or do you sit down and put 100 percent of your effortfor five years and open herself toexploring new territory. I don’t want into everything you do? Raising the bar in your ministry role requires youher busier; I want her more effective to put in “above and beyond” effort into your ministry.because she has so much to offer.How are you like or unlike Kasey?YOUTH LEADER TRAINING ON THE GO
  • 2. R A I S E T HE B A R CONNECT to God’s Word T O T HE POINT “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the • Avoid coasting in your personal ministry. What counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of might need to change? sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he • Decide on a next step for meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted your ministry to students. by streams of water, which yields its fruit in • Develop a habit of setting season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever spiritual and leadership goals. he does prospers.” —Psalm 1:1-3 TRY I T • What does it mean to delight in the law of the Look at the chart below, and Lord? Do you find this idea difficult or refreshing? take some time to examine your • What are the streams of water in your life relationship with God and your ministry to students. and ministry? My spiritual My youth • What’s keeping you planted and growing? growth ministry role What am I currently doing here? Write a response and prayer to God here… What do I want this area of my life to look like one year from now? What’s an immediate “next step” in this area? Who in my life would provide good accountability for me in this area? What’s the biggest challenge for me in this area? Now it’s time to make something happen! Raise the bar and take the next step in your ministry. MA K E IT PER SONAL Permission to photocopy this handout granted for local church use. Copyright © Doug Fields. Published in Youth Leader Training on the Go by Group Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 481, Loveland, CO 80539. www.youthministry.com and www.simplyyouthministry.com