There is nothing quite like being a small group leader. Sure, it doesn’t pay well (unless you happen to see Pizza and Diet Coke as currency). Sure, the hours aren’t great (especially those long sleep deprived weekends away from your family and friends). Sure, nobody throws banquets in your honor or offers you advertising deals for their product.
You have the incredible opportunity to make a difference in the life of a student, in a way that almost nobody else gets to. Students are not great at articulating it, but they look to you to see what God is like and what it means to live a genuine faith. The way you treat them, the words you speak to them, and your willingness to lead them all contribute to their openness to what God wants to do in their lives. Every interaction you have with them is valuable.
The youth pastor you serve with may be the one getting paid “big bucks” to lead the ministry, but you are the one genuinely making a difference in the life of a student. Please take your role seriously, but also trust that God will work through you. Always assume that God put you in your role on purpose and that He wants to use you to bring about great things in your students’ lives.
With that in mind, the greatest gift you can give your students is to take care of your own soul. If you are empty, you won’t have anything to pour out, and students need you to pour into them. If your ministry is like mine, things are a little less busy right now and it’s a great time to take some time to evaluate. I know it’s weird, but take a minute right now. How are you really doing? Are in you in a place of peace and hope, or are you stressed, worn down and worried? The reality is that your spiritual health has more to do with your ability to lead and love your students than your gifts, abilities, and passions combined. Your students need the best you can bring, and when you get this right it is incredible to see what God will do through you.
As the summer winds down and you get ready to step into the trenches for another year, take some time to rest and recenter your soul. Not only do you need it, but your students need it from you, too.