Taylor Swift continues to somehow guide me in Youth Ministry. I really am not looking for that to happen, she's just awesome.
Pay for that Funky Music … Apple!
So, maybe you read this yesterday? T-Swift went all Tumblr on Apple sticking up for the indie artists, and apparently her newest mega hit album, 1989. The whole issue was with Apple Music, and the marketing of making the first three months free! How nice of them you say? But wait! They weren’t going to pay artists during that time. So they get their hooks into people buying into the stream by enjoying artists’ music, but don’t pay them to achieve that? Yeah … T-Swift didn’t like that either. I love Apple, but they tried to pull a fast one.
So now apparently after what I’m calling “Swift Justice” swept the interwebs, Eddy Cue and friends at Apple have done a Mea Culpa and changed their tune. Artists are now going to get paid. Hooray! T-Swift to the rescue! She gets paid for a few more million listens of Shake It Off! World Peace is finally achieved! Ok, maybe I overstep. But there is a ministry lesson to be had.
Use Your Power for Good
Insert cheesy but true reference to Uncle Ben and Peter Parker, “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”. But if it is true for Spiderman and Taylor Swift, it rings true for us as Youth Ministry leaders.
But who are the “indie artists” in our circle of influence? The obvious answer is the young people. But that’s not my focus today. I want to think about colleagues, volunteers, and pastors. Even those we might consider enemies. Let’s open our eyes to who we need to care for and be an advocate for this summer that are often lowest on our priority list.
Look Around You
You’ve been called and gifted into leadership. What I think we need to do for greater faithfulness and multiplication of our efforts is to first spend time calling on the Holy Spirit. Let’s open our eyes to those around us we often find as adversaries, or sometimes just annoying. Let’s be honest, we don’t choose everyone we’re called to work and minister with, but God chose to place them before you. So let’s take a moment and name them:
- The frustrating pastor who has a heart of gold but simply doesn’t see things the way I do.
- That volunteer on our team who is 1000 % bought into Youth Ministry, but has the most ridiculous and unattainable ideas.
- The wonderful faithful person who completely interrupts my day to go on about something that legitimately has nothing to do with my work.
- The perpetually in crisis (but in my mind it never is a crisis) friend who needs to talk.
- The rosary lady. (probably my mom)
- The person with a thousand great new ideas, but is a month over due doing the one thing I actually need them to do. (This is 100% me. Mea Culpa to Project YM for not writing enough, Lance, Erwin, Jennifer, Lisa, Sr. Maybelle, Blake, Blackstrap Board, my Wife and almost every other human being who I do ministry with)
How Can I be Like Taylor? (without getting a haircut)
The Frustrating Pastor:
- Give him the benefit of the doubt by praying for him everyday. Priests have hard jobs too. I’m failing often but trying to pray first thing in the morning for my Bishop when I sit at my desk.
- Let’s follow through in supporting and executing one new idea of his; even if we think it is doomed.
- Speak our mind and concerns when we have them, but don’t abandon charity.
- Give his ideas as much effort as we give our own. Come on, I’ve done the half trying, “See, I told you so?” routine. Let ideas fail because they were bad or because of circumstance, not because of our effort. Otherwise we’ll never learn together without potentially holding resentment that lack of support was the reason something didn’t pan out.
- Once a month have coffee, whiskey, beer, or a steeped tea with our Pastor … on our dime, outside of work hours. Get to know him for who he is, not just as our boss.
The Off the Wall Idea Volunteer:
- Stop dodging the inevitable meeting to talk about that, “I have a crazy good idea” project they have. Even if it is completely bonkers, they will keep believing in it until they get the chance to share it and work on it. I was that guy who put under the “needs” column for our undeveloped youth room, “Indoor Go Kart Track & Velcro Wall”. To this day I believe I was right in that being a “need” vs. “want”. But the fact my Youth Ministry Coordinator wrote that on our chart paper to present to parish council affirmed me. I eventually learned we only had so much money for dry wall, paint, a kitchen, and to get couches. But I appreciated feeling heard, and it inspired us to eventually duck tape a leader to a wall. So, close enough.
- The best ideas usually come after a thousand bad ones. Stop squashing bad ideas looking for great ones. The creative/collaborative process requires we try and be crazy. We need crazy idea person. Stop brushing them aside. Give 20 minutes to them. Actually let’s give them more. We’ll be glad we did.
- Part of our ministry is presence. Don’t fake listen. Fake listening doesn’t honour Christ in them, and it doesn’t recoup time either.
- Odds are they need to be heard or process information out loud. Often my experience is that when someone knows they are being heard, the few times I really do need to tell them I am too busy they’ll understand. If they don’t, in the words of my mother, “offer it up!”
- We are not as busy as we think the majority of the time. I just like to feel busy. That’s a whole other blog post.
Our Lady of Perpetual Crisis:
- The point is not what I think of the situation, but how they feel. Feelings matter and are real, even if they don’t own the situation completely. Validate them, and work through them.
- Be Patient. God knows I make people patient.
The Rosary Lady:
- You got a problem with my mom??? [Crickets] … that’s what I thought!
- A little more encouragement to pray and develop a devotion to Mary never hurts. More Mary, Less Problems (your welcome for that Mase, Puff Daddy, & Notorious B.I.G. remix).
- I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I think despite the ways I frustrate others with my quick to suggest, slow to execute … I still am a net positive for the Kingdom. And I usually accomplish most of what I promise, just never on time.
- Instead of jerky texts or emails, silent treatment, or isolation, let’s draw closer to those in need of guidance, support, and reminders. Otherwise we’re helping them fail quicker then blaming them like we had nothing to do with it.
- #MercyWithinMercyWithinMercy – If it is good enough for my Bishop, it is good enough for me.
And for all the above do we truly know everything that is going on in their lives? Take a moment to ponder and pray for their needs before we concern ourselves with ours.
Let us stand up for the “indie artists”, the partners in ministry we want to ignore or could easily forget about. Let us not allow a moment to pass when we can lift the needs of others above the concerns of ourselves.