Andy Stanley, in his book Communicating for a Change, talks about a thing called “the preacher’s burden.” He says it’s the thing that “if you don’t preach it, you will die.” The thing that your audience has to hear.
I was supposed to preach on Friday in chapel at the Seminary, and I had prepared like never before. I had studied the passage. I had prepared my outline. I had boiled it down to one thing. I had the perfect illustration. Then the phone rang.
It seems there is someone in town that the Seminary wants to preach on Friday instead. The guy is part of an organization that helps the Seminary a lot, and they called me today (Wednesday) to let me know that they want him to preach on Friday, the day that has been on the calendar for me to preach since the start of the term.
So what do I do with the burden? I am convinced the Seminary students, professors (including me), and administration need to hear the sermon I was going to preach. I have the burden. I might explode if I can’t tell them what I felt God had told me to say.
They tell me that I will get a chance to preach next term. It will be my turn again, I’m sure. But in the meantime, I guess I have to put into practice the concept that God taught me and gave me a passion for while I was preparing to preach. Could it be that the message was more for me than for the Seminary students?
So what do you do with the preacher’s burden when it turns out that you don’t get to preach it? Are there other ways to get the message out?
Saturday mornings we have started some informal training for youth workers. Huberto is teaching the first series, and it’s cool for me to see one of my former students interacting and training others (2 Timothy 2:2).
Here’s a qik video of Huberto teaching the YM Goal statement: “Develop a vehicle (program) through which every adolescent will hear the gospel in a culturally relevant manner and have the opportunity to spiritually mature.” (That’s my rough English translation of what we use).
I love how passionate he is about training others. He’s taught in the bachelor’s program at the Seminary, he went with us last year to Boyce College’s Youth Emphasis Week, and he’s taken a major role in the Saturday morning training we have started.
Please pray that the ministry will continue to expand and multiply.
Youth Ministry International offers certification for youth workers who have demonstrated certain qualifications for ministry. In fact, there are 52 essential qualities for a certified youth worker. We basically see these qualities as our goals for the students in the Centers for Youth Ministry throughout the world.
The essential qualities fall under 5 categories: skills, character, knowledge, programming, and academic and experiential training. Receiving the certification also allows the youth worker to conduct training and seminars on behalf of Youth Ministry International.
Almost one year ago, on May 27, 2007, YMI certified the first youth worker in the Ukraine. Today, we gave Huberto his youth ministry certification. He is the first Latin American youth worker that Youth Ministry International has certified, and it was an honor to be able to give him his certificate at his church this morning.
I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in his church and community now that he’s finished his seminary degree (of course, I am encouraging him to continue his education, but he’s finished for now). He should have more time to dedicate to the ministry, and he’s already doing a great job.
I could see today how great of a relationship he has with his students, and I could tell that they were looking for him for counsel. It was great to see him in action.
Ah, leadership. Leaders. Liderazgo. It’s a great subject. But what are some qualities of effective leaders in youth missions? Let me give you one.
The first quality of leadership that I believe is essential to effective Youth Missions Leadership is to learn as much as you can about the context and culture. Rosabeth Moss Kantor siad, “Leaders are more powerful role models when they learn than when they teach.” It’s true. You can lead people much farther if you strive first to understand them.
You cannot lead if you do not understand the culture and context of those with whom you are working. The first thing you must do as a leader anywhere, but especially in missions, is try to understand the situation. If you cannot spend time observing the culture and the people, you will find it difficult to lead them.
The fact that you have a position of leadership does not mean that you are a leader. You may arrive to a situation with the title of leader, but that does not mean they will see you as a leader. Sure, in many cultures, they will hold you up on a pedestal simply because of your title. But to win the respect of the people you wish to lead, you must first try to understand them.
Before I went to Mexico, I did as much as I could to try to understand the culture and context. I read books about culture and history, talked to people, and tried my best to understand the context of youth ministry in Mexico. There is still a lot I don’t understand about Mexican culture, but I feel that this time of learning (that continues today) has helped me in the ministry.
So, here are some tips for learning the context and culture:
Read all you can about the culture.
The first few months (first year if you can), don’t do ministry. Just observe. That doesn’t mean you aren’t ministering. You just aren’t participating in a formal ministry.
Ask lots of questions about the culture (family, history, language, way of doing things, relationships).
Spend real time with real people. Watch how they interact with each other.
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