WAIT


We’re a generation of rushers; we want the immediate and then wonder why life feels so shallow. There is a reason we feel empty and shallow, we’re lacking in the one thing that we need. The one thing we need is the one thing we can’t rush, pressurise or make happen. The one thing that truly encourages us, empowers us and gives us our fulfilment comes from the one person we can’t manipulate or trick.

I was having a conversation with an über awesome older Priest a little while ago. I was talking about wanting to make sure that in 30 years time I am still running the race well and just as excited about all that God is doing as I am today. My fear is that I will burn out and become discouraged and cynical because of my inability to truly trust God. If I wasn’t a Christian I would be a workaholic, I would be discouraged in a second and an habitual cynic. I know this to be true because it’s the battle I have each day. I asked this ‘über awesome older Priest’ how he has carried on all these years serving and loving people without becoming tired and half-hearted. His response wasn’t quite what I wanted.

He responded, “Each morning I get up, I sit in my chair and I wait on God. I wait for His Spirit to come and fill me and then from that place I get up and move through the day”.

I asked about what happens if he has a meeting. He responded he does nothing until he has been filled with the Spirit and if God doesn’t show up then he just keeps waiting.

He had recently missed a meeting with me and this is why. He’d been waiting on God and needed to keep waiting.

Psalm 27:14 beautifully says “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD”.

I’m not sure I want to wait. I’m a bit too busy to wait. You would think that God would be on time for a meeting. He’s God; surely he has an alarm clock? Why would he keep us waiting?

That’s the point isn’t it? He’s God and we’re not. We want the instant, the immediate and the quick. But God teaches us that we are the human ‘beings’ and not the human ‘doings’.

So I am learning again to wait.

And boy it’s taking time to learn.


LOOKING GOOD


We are our worst critics aren’t we? At times there will be others who will say things that criticise us but we are our worst critics of all. Nobody knows me more than I do, nobody knows my deep insecurities, pride, ego and desires more than me. It’s like we carry this referee around with us and every time we fail or make mistakes, they blow the whistle in our heads and shout foul.

When we look in the mirror most of us don’t see something we love, we see all the imperfections. I’ve recently spotted my first, pure, white hair appear in my beard. All the rest are still brown but the one stands out every time I look in the mirror. We can’t help but be our own judge, pointing out our white hairs and blowing the whistle… Foul!

In 2 Cor 5:17 we are told that because of Jesus we are now new creations. Are you kidding St Paul, I don’t feel like a new creation, in fact I feel like a old creation getting older?

I was recently looking at 1 Cor 13 with some friends. We got to the section “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”. As we read this list of what love looks like the general consensus was, are you kidding St Paul? We read that list and just feel guilty for not being any of those things. I don’t feel patient when the kids are arguing, I don’t feel kind when I’m in a hurry, I often struggle with being easily angered and I’m pretty good at writing long lists of those who have wronged me.

And all I hear is the whistle blow and the referee shouting…. Foul.

I feel like I spend more time in the sin bin than actually playing well for the team and have more red cards from the referee than is natural.

If it is right that we are told we are being changed into the likeness of Jesus each day, I don’t see it happening that quick.

As the great poet once said “I’m starting with the man the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways and no message could be any clearer. If you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change”. Yes, Michael Jackson the great American poet. Like many in the world Michael thought that the way to change himself was to look in the mirror and then get on with changing. I’m not sure that self-help stuff really works. No matter how hard I try, I don’t seem to change the deep stuff.

I recently realised something, to be this ‘new creation’ I need to stop gazing upon my faults and gaze more upon Jesus. I need to not look at my faults and want to correct them, but look more on him.

The reality is we become more like what we are looking at. If we spend hours looking at ourselves, all we are doing is perpetuating our faults. But if we are looking at Jesus then we can become more like him.

St Paul was a man who realised all of this more than anyone else. He knew that it was only by grace that we can ever become anything else. The new creation is because of grace and grace alone. In Col 3:3 he writes that because of Jesus and his grace we are now hidden in him. Which means when we look in the mirror rather than seeing our faults and white hairs, we see Jesus. We’re not finished, there is work to be done. But our task is to look past ourselves, to Jesus.


RESURRECTION: from religion to real faith

I’ve been thinking recently about the difference between religion and Christianity. Often people talk about maybe being religious or not, but still affirm their admiration for Jesus. It is as if being religious comprises a set of righteous or devout activities which either fits them or doesn’t. What they mean by religion is a pseudo version of a faith in Jesus. It’s a faith based upon visiting a religious building and going through some religious activities, sometimes involving singing and sometimes not.

So what is religion and what is real faith? I would argue that religion is about bad people becoming better; faith in Jesus is about dead people coming to life.

One is based upon the saviour but is a twisted, manipulative form of the truth and the other is life in abundance based not upon what you do, but whose help you have accepted.

It is possible for someone to attend worship, hear the stories and pray, yet never know the life-giving reality that is found in Jesus. It’s like walking to the brink of a cliff but never seeing beyond it because of the fog.

Religion is ultimately the idol we use to control the uncontrollable. Religion is the box we have created to confine the divine. Jesus knew and understood this full well, this is why he challenged the Pharisees so much in his day. Lets make it clear, we often speak of the Pharisees as the bad guys, but they weren’t as such. These were people who loved the Lord and wanted to live out the Torah passionately. But there passion for the Torah had become rules for maintaining a connection to God rather than the life changing, fuel it should be and Jesus wanted to shake things up for them

Jesus isn’t about rules but about bringing us life in our death. Where are we dying? An addiction, a broken relationship, lies we’ve been caught telling or those that haven’t yet been found out? It’s in these places of our lives that God wants to be involved in bringing life, and life in all its fullness, wholeness and richness, a life now bursting with joy, celebration in its broadest sense. Jesus calls this being “born from above”.

This is what Jesus means when he told Nicodemus he needed to be born again. His religion was killing him, he was striving to be the best religious leader he could and it was killing him. Jesus tells old Nic that what he needs is to be brought to new life.

So what forms does this religion come in? It’s easy for us to see it in other more liberal or traditional forms of church. We could say it’s more obvious because of the lack of passion or something. But I wonder how much it infects the more charismatic Church too. Have our prayer ministry ‘techniques’ formed out of a desire to control, has our worship, with its big choruses and guitar response songs, grown from a man-made place of creating a religious experience. Is the charismatic Church any better than the traditional one?

No.

Religion is simply a place where humans try to control and box God. Jesus says we need to be born from a new place. A place that revolves less around control, clocking in, saying the right words, looking the part and is instead born from a simple place of faith in Jesus being enough.

Religion is about us trying to be good, more holy and earning approval. It’s about us trying to get good or better at being good. Jesus is wanting us not to focus on being good, but on trusting him to bring us from death to life. We need to stop the doing and start the receiving.

Jesus says your religion will kill you. Stop it, drop it and allow him to do what is needed… resurrection.

ORIGINAL PUBLISH ON http://www.threadsuk.com/resurrection/


THE REBELS GUIDE TO LIFE

Here is a copy of Cris’ script from the Sermon on the mount sermon. Cris translated the whole text form scratch to try to retell the sermon in a way Jesus would have tried to in our day and language…

(See the podcase for Sunday 2nd June 2013)

THE REBELS GUIDE TO LIFE

YOURE IN A GOOD PLACE
You’re in the hands of the God when you are down and desperate. With less of yourself you have more space for God to rule and reign your life.

You’re in the hands of the Devine when you have your most special position robed from you. In your loss only then will your feel the embrace of the One who comforts the grieving.

You’re in the hands of the Devine when you allow yourself to become gentle and humble, making others greater than yourself, in this move you will find yourself an inheritor of everything you could ever need.

You’re in the hands of the God when you become desperate to the point of starvation for him, in this place you will be fed on Gods finest gourmet meal of the spirit.

You’re in the hands of the Devine when you choose to live gracefully, at the moment you live by grace, you will find yourselves in a place of grace.

You’re in the hands of the Devine when you allow your heart to become as pure as the performance you show others. When your insides are being transformed you will see God at work in our outside life.

You’re in the hands of the God when you find new ways of making and creating peace. Being a peacemaker isn’t about the absence of conflict but birthing God’s presence in the mist of struggle. When you make peace or help others to find it, in this moment you experience what it looks like to be apart of Gods family.

You’re in the hands of the Devine when others turn against you because of your faith and hate you because of your holy life. In this place of persecution you will be pushed deeper and deeper into Gods presence.

You’re in the hands of the Devine when people laugh, insult and say lies about you because of your choice to live out this good news. People will say the most ridiculous things in public about you, when they do this they are simply trying to undermine who I am. Shout out in praise then people do this to you because I see it as worship and you will be rewarded in the heavenly realms. You’re not the first to experience this, right the way back my prophets and witnesses have experienced these lies too.

SALT AND LIGHT
You my friends are like the salt we use in toilet hygiene. We dig it up from the earth and place on our human waist. This salt helps decompose the filth and turn it into fertiliser for new life; it’s an antiseptic to bring about cleanliness in the most unclean or places. You are like a holy antiseptic who is to be up-close and personal with the mess of this world.

Your also like light graffiti. Your distinct from the darkness like light breaking though the night. A wealthy man doesn’t build a city with its tower block buildings and hide it with a large bowl. Lights need to placed in a prominent location so that everyone gets the pleasure of its energy. In the same way you should shine, shine, shine like glow sticks in the dark so others see Gods spirit shining through you. Be generous with your light to others so they will see your light and be drawn to its source.

WEARING IT
Let me make this very clear to you. I have not come in anyway to do away with the Holy Book or its teachings. I have not come to demolish them but I have come to show you how to wear them, how to live them out. I’ve come to put flesh and blood upon the words. The truth is that until heaven and earth collide and everything is finished none of the words of the scriptures should be deleted, not the smallest full stop can be taken out. Be attentive to live out Gods wisdom and not walk away from his way and do not lead others down other easier routs either.

Whoever practices my way of life, living out the teachings will be given great honour in my kingdom. But it is impossible to enter my kingdom unless your moral performance record exceeds that of the Religious fundamental leaders, which is impossible but trust your God given performance record, now this is a gift.

MURDER
You have been told before in the scriptures “Do not murder”, but I now tell you that if you are even angry with a brother or sister you are already guilty of murder.

If you go calling your brother an ‘idiot’ you are already being dragged before the courts and anyone who thoughtlessly parps his horn and yells at another driver is already heading towards hellfire.

Simply watch your words, even they can kill.

This is how I want you to behave with one another. If you arrive to a time of worship, and your ready to give praise with all your heart and then you remember an issue with a friend, an argument unresolved, ugly words spoken to another human. Abandon the worship gathering and head out to the streets and make your way directly to their home and make things right. Only once this is done then come back to the worship and offer your praise.

Be quick to resolve your conflict, put out the fire in a disagreement before it even makes it way to full out war. On the road to a court hearing don’t lose a moment, go and make things right before things get worse for you, if you don’t you might even end up with a stretch in jail.

ADULTERY
You have been told before in the scriptures not “to go to bed with another’s spouse”. But I want to explain; even if you look at another’s lover you have already committed the crime of adultery. Those cheeky side-glances that arouse, will corrupt your heart. Your heart is able to commit adultery much quicker than your body and it should be noticed.

This life I’m calling you to isn’t easy in any shape or form and we must not pretend other wise. It’s better for you to loose an eye the moment you catch it taking cheeky glances than find yourself thrown into the eternal dump. If you catch your hand slipping where it shouldn’t, take no time to cut it off. It is better for you to walk around handless than your whole body to be thrown away in the trash.

DIVORCE
You have been told before in the scriptures that if you divorce your wife you must give her a certificate with all her human rights once again fully hers. Some of you are using this loophole as an excuse to cover up your own selfish behaviours. Just because you do the legal thing doesn’t mean your doing the right thing.

If you divorce your wife remember that you are leaving her no choice to be an adulteress unless she first slept with another man. If you let her go and she marries another man you’re not only causing her to sin but her new husband to is an adulterer.

PROMISES
Neither say anything that you don’t fully commit to. You have been told before in the scriptures not to break your oaths or make empty promises to man or God. But I am now telling you not to make any promise what so ever, either on your mothers grave, your great grannies grave, don’t make pinky promises or promises upon God’s name, his throne or his holy book.

Neither swear on your own head or your own life, it’s not yours to swear on its still Gods property.

Simply let your yes be a yes and your no be a no. Anything more than keeping it simple is deceptive talk and comes from Satan himself.

EYE FOR AN EYE
You have also been told long before ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth’. But I would like to go one step further, don’t resist a malicious person. The world only gives us two options, fight or flight but I say create a new 3rd option. If someone wants to fight you and their doing it to make you look less important show up their vulgar behaviour by offering them a fight of equals, your no mans slave.

If someone wants to sue you for almost everything you have got, take off your pants and give them those also. Then lets see who is looking silly, the naked man or the evil man who has left you in this naked mess.

If someone forces you to do an unfair task, use it as a opportunity to practice a life of servant hood. Your good behaviour will soon show up their bad behaviour. There is power in your generosity.

LOVE AND HATE
You have also been told in the scriptures to love your friends and in the human traditions we get taught to hate your enemy’s. But I would contest this behaviour and to say fully love your energy like a friend. Let them bring out what is best in you and make sure your praying passionately for them, in this behaviour you will be a child of the most high.

When we behave in this way we behave like our heavenly father. He makes the sunshine and the rains quench the dry land regardless if we are someone who does evil or good. We have a God of equality in all things.

If we simply love those who are easy to love we’ve not learnt the lesson of real love. It’s easy to love those who will love us back. There is no medal or bonus for having narrow love. Even the traffic wardens do that!

If you only say hello to friends in the street what are you doing more than anyone else. Even those of other faiths do that. Live with a deep generosity in the same way your father in heaven does.

GIVING TO THE NEEDY
Be attentive to making sure your not seen doing your good deeds, often people love the performance of giving as if life is a stage but you should do it in secret because that’s where your heavenly father applauds.

Do not announce your generosity with a music event, large charity Cheques or on a add campaign like the big givers do to be honoured in the press. I’ll speak honestly with you, if you give in public you have received your reward already.

Challenge yourself to not let one half of your body know how generous the other half is being so that you really are giving in secret.

God sees your street performance and isn’t impressed but takes pleaser in your private performance for the audience of one.

PRAYER
The same goes for prayer. When you pray don’t turn it into a showbiz performance for the world to see you and allow them to praise your well crafted prayer. X Factor Prayer Performers will get their reward in full on the stage they get applauded upon.

This is what I want you to do. Lock yourself away where you can’t be seen or be temped to perform, hide from all sight and wait in prayer on your father who too is unseen.

When you pray don’t rabbit on, don’t disconnect your brain and witter as if the shear quantity of words will woo God. God doesn’t need you to have well created prayers nor need you to pray in a specific formula. God just wants you to say it as it is, as you need to say it, be real because your father already knows what you really need.

With a God like this who already loves you, you can pray simply like this…

Our father who dwells in the heavens and on the earth, you truly are holy.
Would heaven be a greater present reality here on earth,
And would we be eager to partner with you in seeing your kingdom come.
Give us today the things that we think we need
and forgive us when we haven’t lived the way you would intend and may we forgive others when they don’t like as we intend.

Give us your guidance through all that life throws at us and protect us from the work of the evil one.

There is a connection between the way you pray and the way God will respond to you. If you give mercy, God gives mercy. Its only when you have freed someone else that we find there is room in our lives to find freedom. When we give back someone’s humanity we find that we are also receiving ours.

ENTRUSTING LIFE TO GOD
I now want to talk to you about entrusting the whole of life to your Father. There are times when its good to deny yourself food to focus more on God, but when you do this don’t winge and wine, pulling glum faces so people notice your doing so. Fasting might make you loved by fellow believers but it will not make you a saint. But when you give your belly to God then make sure you have combed your hair and made yourself presentable so no one will realise your fasting on the outside.

God doesn’t need you to try to get his attention, he has already noticed you and he is preparing you a reward.

STUFF
It is far too easy to try to control life. We do this in the way we fill our bank accounts, prepare our pensions and buy beautiful things for our homes but all of this will be destroyed or lost on the stock market or even stolen.

Its rather obvious, where we put our treasures our hearts will end up being there. On earth our stuff will end up in a 2nd hand store or thrown away, but in heaven our treasures will have eternal value.

In trade they say if your ‘eyes are good’ your generous but if ‘your eyes are narrow and slitty’ your greedy. The eyes are windows to your soul. If your eyes are squinty your heart will be greedy and distrusting but if your eyes are open, wide and generous your heart will be also.

Don’t try to control life with greed. You cant worship a God of life and a god of death. The worship of Mammon with leave you hating YHVH and adoration of YHVH will leave you hating the other.

ANXIETY
It’s also easy to try to control your life with worry and anxiety. If you decided to worship God then what follows is a desire to stop being anxious over that you will eat and what fashionable cloths you wear.

A God life is far more liberating than worrying what you will feed your body or your outer appearance. Look at the birds your Father made, they do not make, bake, create or produce, neither do they have life insurance and yet they receive all they need. Do you think that you are more valuable to God than the little birds who simply trust in his unbridled provision?

Do you know anyone who has grown younger or added a year to their lives by worrying, if so they are a walking miracle. Why do you worry over your fashion magazines, killing hours walking the lengths of death breathing clothes stores. See the beauty of the simple flowers growing in the garden. They don’t need to kill themselves over getting the next season’s look but I bet you’ve never seen colour and beauty quite like them. Even the celebrity fashion designer of the year can’t look as radiant as them.

If this is how God behaves with the smallest of flowers, hiding in the deepest furthest unseen gardens do you not think he will give you so much more?

My child you really don’t believe it do you?

What I am trying to get you to do is take a chill pill. Take a moment to relax and not worry or be anxious but to trust your Father will feed you, give you a drink and cloth you.

Those who don’t know Gods provision run and chase all the wrong things making themselves nervous and paranoid. Don’t be like them worried about getting and allow yourself to trust Gods giving.

To live a life of freedom firstly you need to seek God’s presence, God’s reality with you and from this all things will fall into place. Make yourself aware of God, what he is doing and how he is moving, it is from this place you will find tomorrow is accounted for and you will stop worrying about it.
Each morning brings new troubles but God will help, trust me.

CONTROLLING OTHERS
In the way you behave towards others you will find it reaped upon you. If you pick on other peoples, their failings and criticise there imperfections you will find you are treated the same.

Why do you comment on the small speck of ketchup on the other persons lip when you have BBQ source all down your front. How dare you offer to wipe the other persons lip when all the time you have your own washing to do. All this is about your desire to control and condemn the other person. You religious performer, prancing around the stage, sort out your own issues before you start meddling in the lives of other people. All you are doing is trying to control others with negative comments.

In the same way stop trying to control people with good things. If you throw pears at a pig do they have the ability to appreciate it? In giving good things to those who can’t appreciate it all your doing is trying to control through your generosity. When you do this they have do idea of its worth and will turn on you and stamp all over you.

CONTROLLING GOD
Rather than trying to control people simply ask for what you need and it may well be given to you without strings. If this doesn’t work then simply wait and seek the right time and you might find an answer. If you get to that place where you a sobbing because you have nothing left then knock and the door might be opened for you. You don’t need to play a cat and mouse game.

When a child of yours comes and asks for something to eat you wouldn’t dream of trying to feed them a bowl of gravel. If they asked for some fish fingers who would think of giving them a plate of snake.

So if you are evil compared to the gloriousness of God and you know how to give good things, imagine how good your Father in heaven is. You don’t need to control other people for things because your Dad is always on hand to help give you what you need.

What I am saying is simple, don’t try to control people but do with others, as you would want them to do with you, making sure you behave like this first. This in its simplest rawest form is what all the Prophets, the laws and the stories all add up to.

THREE WARNINGS
I now want to give you three warnings.
Firstly, everyone has easy options, ways around and cut throughs but what we find is they aren’t easy routes or cut throughs at all. The televangelists will give you the things you can do on your own to earn your way to God, but this leads to nothing but religion.

Make sure you do the hard thing, enter through the narrow gate. There are two routes the wide religious route selling you tools and guides to religion. They will tell you exactly how to live out a devote religious life but you will only end up missing God because his route is narrow and it enters through a door called grace. When you stand in the narrow gate, the tight narrow doorway and you step into it you will notice it’s an expansive flung wide open door.

WARNING TWO
Secondly, Keep your eyes fully alert for the false preachers. They will wear the right suits, preach from the right bible and say what you want them to hear. There words will be dripping with sincerity and most probably make some human sense but they are out to trick, manipulate and gain all they can from you. These people aren’t there to help but hinder. The only way to spot them will be by the fruit of their work, it will be shrived up and bitter. Watch where you are picking fruit, is this preacher a thorn bush or thistle.

These bad fruit bares need chopping down before they poison the whole village.

Just because someone claims to call me Master, doesn’t mean they will entre through the narrow gate. But only those who do what their Father in heaven wants will get through this narrow doorway.

It will be a sad day when people say to me ‘Master Master’, as if it was some kind of divine password to the eternal realms but I will not know them. Just because you were able to prophecy, cast out demons or even perform a miracle or two doesn’t mean I know you.

I’m not looking for religious titles I’m looking for friends.

WARNING THREE
Finally, I have said a lot, spoken many words. The question is will you be willing to put them into practice, put your own flesh and blood on them? These words aren’t spiritual add-ons or ways of making small improvements to your life. If you are willing to do the hard work and put this all into practice you will be like a homeowner who built his own house. Rather than building on the ground, as it was they dug right the way down to the rock hidden out of sight. On this solid foundation you build a solid home.

The reality is one-day life will throw all it has at you, the storms will come and the tornados will hit your brickwork but because you have built on my teaching you will be fixed sound to the rock.

But if you hear my words, you might even study the plans I give you but if you don’t listen and simply rush ahead doing your own thing with little thought you will be like the person who built his house on a sandy beach. The same storms will come but this time your foundations will be so poor the property will fall down around you. You will not know where to run.

…As Jesus ended his teaching all those listening were gobsmacked by what he said. They realised he was different to all the other religious leaders; he actually knew what he was talking about. The people were amazed at his teaching; they stood and followed his down the mountain…


BECOMING AN EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY YOUTH LEADER.

It’s rather strange when you have enough years of ministry behind you to start to see what you have been building and what you have really achieved. I entered full-time church youth ministry when I was 21 and I’m now 33. Looking back over the last 12 years I can’t help but ask the question how healthy were some of the things I built up and at times really how emotionally healthy was it over all.

When we begin to look back at our ministry if we are honest with ourselves just as we can see the high points and the times we have been so clearly led and guided by God, we can also see the times where it’s been built around our own characteristics and shortcomings instead of Him.

The reality is we are people who bring into our ministries baggage from family life, upbringing, previous church experience and relationships. For example I know people who I am sure only entered youth ministry because they didn’t want to grow up: becoming youth workers because they wanted to remain teenagers, play the Xbox and not get up until lunchtime.

However, if we are going to be the incredible army of leaders our young people and God need us to be then we need to make sure we are fit for the task. We need to be real about the decisions that we make and why we make them. We need to be honest about why and how we project ourselves to our youth group and the church at general. We need to be open about our management style and willing to accept criticism and comments from others.

As part of this engaging with my own motives in ministry, a while ago I began to ask myself questions around why I was making particular decisions for example I might ask myself ‘why’, or ‘what’s going on in me?’ that has lead me to that leadership choice. These weren’t huge bad decisions that I’d made more often good decisions but made with the wrong motives. A good example would be around deciding to promote a particular person to become a small group leader when maybe another person is more capable. We could try and justify that it’s about their spiritual maturity when the reality is its simply because we feel threatened by the other more able person.

As youth workers we often end up in incredible powerful positions within the church and youth community of the area. There are those who look up to us, emulate us, and consider our opinion to be significant and important. However within the wider structures of the church and schools we often feel we need to prove that we are worthwhile, and essential to the work going on. We work hard at being relevant to the young people we work with and often feel we need to prove our worth and importance and then also try and If we are prove our existence to the wider church and our line managers. There is a danger that we work at creating a ‘Glittering Image’ of who we are and our ministry and become worried about how people would react if they realized what we were really like, if we emotionally collapsed, if someone else better than us came along or if a volunteer worker turned out to be more skilled will our views be ignored.

This attempt to create an image, that we then work hard at maintaining can have far reaching effects on our lives, our faith, our marriage and relationships and the young people were are working with.

The point I am making is that healthy youth leaders create healthy communities for their young people. We need to keep our motives in check. We need to be accountable to others. We need to make sure we aren’t trying to build our own ‘glittering image’ but instead working to build the kingdom of God.

These are all tough questions to be asked and it can be painful for us to gaze at ourselves when we are so focused upon our young people but I’m coming to the conclusion it’s of up most importance.

As youth workers we are shining lights for our young people to see, follow and learn from. Which means we need to set an example for every area of their lives. How we deal with our own personal and emotional well-being will be picked up on by our young people and staff watching. It’s also so important in order to sustain our work for many years to come. Why do so many youth works burn out? Could it be because they are fighting to maintain their glittering image? Why do we speak badly about the next-door church’s youth ministry? Is it because we are fearful others will think more highly of it? Why do we become cynical towards other leaders? Could it be because we are secretly fearful they have something we don’t?

Wrestling with questions such as these should be painful and uncomfortable. This isn’t about naval gazing but about looking to see what makes us tick, why do we defend ourselves like we do and what motivates our actions.

The beauty is that the Gospel has always claimed we are more sinful and flawed than we could ever imagine. God knows our real motivations and that’s why he sends his son for us. Paul writes to the Corinthians “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). We are accepted and loved and it’s in this place that we minister and become God’s tools for the job. Part of that is taking seriously the need to examine our motives and ourselves in order to ensure that we are aware of our sin.

Peter Scazzero in ‘The Emotionally Healthy Leader ‘ draws out the need of churches and church leaders to created Emotionally Healthy Churches, where all these issues were considered and worked out. In the same way it is essential that as youth workers we have emotionally healthy ministry. This is one where we understand that our past does affect our present ability to minister, that numbers of external forces have formed who we are and can shape for good or bad how we now make decisions.

It might be worth asking yourself the following questions…

• Could there be any emotional baggage or unfinished business from my past that may well affect my leadership and relationships today?
• What are my motivations for working with young people and are any of them unhealthy?
• Do I seek to find value in the Church and not in Christ?
• Do you really know what you feel and think when making a decision around other leaders?
• Am I running away from anything or is something holding me back from being as powerful a leader as I could be?

In Mark 8 Jesus invites his disciples to die to themselves, their ego, pride, hopes and dreams that his hopes and dreams might be birthed in them. If we are to lead healthy ministries then we need to make sure we are healthy and the only way we can do that is to make sure we are dying to the unhealthy things that Jesus might be birthing the new creation in us. If we long to be emotionally healthy, leading with the right motives then those we lead will notice and they too will follow.

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