Gratitude and Youth Ministry: An Unlikely Pair.
Let’s be honest. Sometimes we’re needy. Sometimes we complain. Sometimes we’re annoyed at this calling to ministry. But to fester on these things will never really do us any good. It only feeds bitterness. So what if we tried to have a a gratitude perspective? It’s not often easy to say thank you to the student who always complains about your youth group message, or to the parent who discredits your ministry. But what if we tried to put on love in these moments rather than take it personal? What if we focused our hearts on saying thanks rather than complain?
I have found that focusing on gratitude as a youth pastor can humble me and put perspective where it needs to be. There is no immediate return on a thank you. No one ever says thanks for a thank you card, or applauds you for being grateful. There’s nothing selfish in thanking others. Or is there? Can being grateful change our hearts? I think so. I think having gratitude can help us from becoming bitter, can strengthen relationships, show investment in people, and have a lasting impression on those in our ministry.
What if you were remembered for being a youth pastor who said thank you? What if you were quick to be genuinely grateful for the people you serve? How can you turn criticism, bitterness, fear, and insecurity into an opportunity to say thank you?
Here are a few tips on how to work on becoming a pastor of gratitude.
Print address labels for all your students. Each week pick 5 students to write a quick postcard to. I have a standard postcard that I print with our logo and I keep a stack at hand. Include one way you are thankful that the student is involved in their faith journey. There are a few awesome things about postcards: You have limited space to write so make it meaningful, parents will usually see what you’ve written, and it’s cheaper than an envelope. All of our students need encouragement. They need to hear “thank you” for the way they are investing in their faith. Send a few this week.
Send a thank you email or Facebook message to one parent each week. Complement their parenting skills and share a story about how you’ve seen their teen grow in faith or use their gifts and talents for God. Parents often feel alone in the battle of the teenage years. Become part of their team by encouraging them.
Always write a thank you note to church members, leaders, parents, and others who support your program. Anytime someone donates time, money, or talent to our program I send a thank you note. Always be grateful for the ways you allow people to support the youth program.
The best way to be grateful is to pray. Especially when you are feeling bitter or frustrated. Thank God for the people He’s put in your path. Parents, youth, leaders, church members. Commit to spending time in prayer for the people in your ministry. This will certainly remind you of the blessings God has put in your life and will allow a grateful heart to grow.
What is one way you are investing in having a gratitude focus this week?