Fall is also known as the “everything-is-still-bright-and-shiny-season.” Our brand spanking new youth ministry schedule is still that: brand new, fresh, perfect.
Fall is also when we realize that life happens. And as it turns out, life and a perfect plan don’t mash very well. Trust me, life wins. Every single time. Usually it doesn’t take longer than, say, October, to make the first changes in that perfect plan.
Adapting is a core requirement for a youth leader. For those of us who are type-A planners, who value structure and love organizing, that can be a bitter pill to swallow.
In the past, I’ve had to adapt countless times because life happened. Like that time when I was supposed to speak in a youth service, and my son got very ill. I canceled an hour in advance. It made for a very unhappy pastor, as he had to step in for me last-minute.
Or that time when I had planned to attend a conference, one I’d been looking forward to for months. Three days before, I took a nasty fall and hurt my back. I ended up canceling and lost money on the deposit I couldn’t get back.
You can plan all you want, and you should, but you also need to remember that life is more important than your plans.
That’s a reality I’ve had some trouble accepting in the past. On more than once occasion, I’ve gotten quite frustrated that I wasn’t able to do what I wanted to do, what I had planned to do.
But I’m getting better at it. What has helped me is to consciously see the positive sides in the new situation.
No, I didn’t get to speak that youth service, but I did get to hold my very ill baby son and my presence soothed him. Being there as a mom was ten times more important than being present as a youth pastor.
No, I didn’t get to attend that conference, but because I had to take it easy, I did experience a period of rest. I got to read some great books, catch up on some TV watching, felt myself relax and recuperate after a busy period. In hindsight, it was a blessing.
In youth ministry, life often gets in the way of our best laid plans. We plan the perfect retreat and then weather happens. We plan to finally get our sermon done and then that crisis happens. We plan to catch up on our email and then our power goes down.
It happens, life happens.
Life happens and there’s no sense in getting frustrated (believe me, I’ve tried – doesn’t help!). There are lots of situations that are outside your control. But how you respond to them, your mental attitude—that is something you can control.
Choose to see the positive.
Choose to see what you can do, what you did do. Embrace life, since you can’t control it.