Written by Dan Istvanik
Heading into my 20th year of doing youth ministry with a majority of that time being married, there are some things that I have learned that have kept me married and kept me in ministry. Whether it is your relationship with your spouse or ministry to your Jr. Highers, there are a few things that are ironically “life savers” for both. Here are just a couple things that have helped me and hopefully can help you…
Make a plan and stick to it. What you say you will do…DO! Plan and organize your life and dates, way ahead of time. Sit down and think out what is going to be happening and what you want to happen in the next 6 to 12 months, and then create a calendar. Go out and buy a big, stinking old-school calendar with a lot of room to write everything down on, and then hang it where you and everyone can see it. Especially make sure you have all the “special days” you are supposed to remember on it, because you know if you miss one of those, you are done for! Your name is “mud” and it will take you years to live down the fact that you forgot!
Don’t check out other people’s… be faithful and committed! Be satisfied with the one you have and stop going around looking to see how good and pretty everyone else’s looks. There is nothing worse than get caught looking around. “Godliness with contentment is great gain…” (I Tim. 6:6), needs to be lived out in how you focus and think.
The other side of commitment is longevity. Stick it out for better or worse knowing you cannot and will not take the easy out. It has become way too easy to head on out and trade on up, when things are not going the way YOU think they should. It is not only about you.
Talk to, talk with…stop talking at. You are paid to be a communicator, but sometimes you are the worst at communicating. Take the time to relax, chill out, and just talk. Find the times to talk without an agenda in mind or a point you need to make. Even more make an effort to let the communication flow the other way and just listen. It isn’t really communicating, if the only person who is talking is you all the time.
When you do need to inform make sure you are clear, concise and to the point. Communicate regularly and often and in your communication inform by creating interest and including others.
More than love and even like…actually care. We love and sometimes even like, but do we really show care? In the day in and day out life of hearing people’s problems, issues, and hurts, you need to remember to actually compassionately care in a personal way. We can easily become cynical and a bit hard-hearted without even knowing it. The big hurt of the day is being poured out and you slip into the counselor “nod and quote a verse mode”. Little secret, that is not much of a secret, everyone sees through that really quickly, especially the people that know you!
Enjoy life and laugh….learn to laugh at yourself. Life is fun, so have fun and make fun. Not everything needs to be an intense spiritual serious moment. If you don’t laugh and look for the humor in things, you will go nuts. It is the natural release valve of life, if you don’t learn to laugh, you will end up crying, frustrated and bit angry… no needs for any more of that around, there is enough of that already!
Blessings on your marriage and on your ministry. May you find ways to save both and continue to do what God has called you to in both, sacred and special parts of your life!
Dan Istvanik is the Jr. High Youth Pastor at Berean Baptist Church in Mansfield, Ohio. Dan is also a regular writer and contributor to both “Group Magazine” and “Youthworker Journal”. Be sure to check out Dan’s blog, it’s really awesome.