What do we do with the stuff we don’t want to do?

Everyone—whether grade school student, college student, first-time mom, mailman, telemarketer, professional athlete, CEO or youth pastor—from time to time is required to do things he or she doesn’t want to do. This list will be different for each person but includes things such as writing thank-you notes, completing expense reports, writing self-evaluations, drafting emails, and placing phone calls to people who do not like us.

There are a number of responses we can have to these things.

We can avoid them

This is beneficial for us in the short run but quickly will become problematic. Like an overdue library book, eventually you will have to pay the piper. Second, we can do them poorly by leaving them to the last minute. This doesn’t really gain us much ground, and we won’t enjoy being the one with the reputation for always being the last one to get the work done. Let me suggest a few other solutions.

Delegate what you can, without dumping

There is the famous phrase, “You should do only what only you can do.” While this is true, you need to make sure your delegation doesn’t become dumping. When you delegate, you should be giving someone else an opportunity to do things they find joy in doing. No one wants to be dumped on, but people do enjoy the ability to participate in ministry. For example, an intern can write bulletin announcements and is likely to enjoy the work, but don’t ask the same intern to return the call of an angry parent. It won’t be a good experience for the intern, and the parent will know you haven’t followed through on your responsibility.

Do the stuff you don’t want to do first

I once heard someone say he got up and ran 2 miles every morning, because then nothing worse possibly could happen to him the rest of the day. The idea is similar with doing these unpleasant tasks first. If you take care of the hard stuff first, you’ll also feel energized to do things you enjoy more later. You tend to have more energy earlier in the day, so why not tackle those unpleasant tasks before you do anything else?

Make it a ministry moment

Multitasking is one of my favorite things. If I am on a long phone call, I find myself cleaning the house without thinking because I subconsciously want to make the most of my time while I’m on the phone. Multi-tasking can come in handy in ministry, as well. For example, find opportunities for doing things you don’t want to do with students, and use it as an opportunity to disciple them. If I have to put labels on a last-minute mailing, I’ll send a message to students: “labeling party at the church today!” My mundane task has just become a bonding/discipleship opportunity with students. A number of years ago, I had to buy a drum set for our youth group, which required a 30-minute drive to the music store. I wasn’t looking forward to the drive or the task of buying the set, so I called a student who I knew would be interested in this purchase and brought him along. We got an hour of time together, made even better for him—a pretty quiet young man—because he didn’t have to look at me while we talked.

God will reward our diligence. On days when it feels as if no one cares, we have to remember God does.

He is watching and will reward us for our faithfulness. Paul’s words from Colossians are particularly helpful here. Sometimes we in youth ministry may feel like the bondservants he was addressing, but we are writing emails, reconciling credit card purchases or making difficult phone calls should “work at it with all of [our] hearts, as working for the Lord…[because we] know [we] will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward” (Col. 3:23-24).

 

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About The Author

Syler Thomas is a native Texan who has worked as a pastor at Christ Church Lake Forest in Illinois since 1998. He writes a column for Youthworker Journal, has had articles published in Leadership Journal and the Chicago Tribune, and enjoys acting in the occasional play. He believes with all of his heart that the Cubs will one day win the World Series, and he and his wife Heidi have four kids.