“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent and praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

You may have noticed that the title of this devotion is “Staying Positive in a Negative Church”; but the fact is that for youth leaders, it’s not only the world that can be negative, but also God’s people. There are many situations and circumstances in the church that can cause a youth leader to lose heart. It was true for Moses, for Nehemiah…and yes, for Paul.

However, trying times can also lead us to clarity. I suppose the apostle Paul was driving at this point when he wrote from prison: “think about such things.” When we remain positive in spite of our circumstances, we discover our purpose for serving and perhaps rediscover the reasons we entered ministry in the first place.

Some weeks ago, following a rather boisterous and emotionally charged church meeting, one brave soul asked, “I wonder if we have forgotten why we decided to follow Jesus in the first place?” It was just the question that compelled the group out of gridlock and brought us to clarity. From animosity and negativity sprung unity and vision.

We all need to dwell on lovely thoughts, noble thoughts, the highest aspirations of our faith if we are to remain positive when ministry is not going well. We all need the excellent and the praiseworthy. We not only need to receive praise, but offer it, especially when we are hurting. That’s when our praise can mean the world to someone else.

If you are hurting, don’t hurt alone. Think about the positive aspects of your life and your work. Dwell on the high points, not the low points. Look to tomorrow. Clarity can come from adversity.

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About The Author

Todd Outcalt is the lead pastor of Calvary United Methodist Church in Brownsburg, Indiana and is a thirty-year youth ministry veteran. He is the author of twenty-five books in six languages, including the youth ministry titles: $5 Youth Ministry (Group); Last-Minute Meetings (Abingdon); Ready to Go Youth Meetings (Abingdon); and The Youth Ministry Encyclopedia (Kindle).

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