I don’t know if i’m the only one out there but I am convinced that running a youth ministry feels like your life is constantly run on fast-forward! The pace is nuts, the young people are crazy, awesome – but crazy and the planning can feel relentless. Don’t get me wrong, I flipping love it! But often in the midst of what feels like a fast-forward life it can be tricky to pause and have a think about the bigger picture.
At the start of this year in the midst of our little fast-forward life, God began to speak to my wife Hannah and I about the next phase of our ministry together. It’s amazing how quickly the bigger picture of ‘legacy’ moved from an occasional and passive thought to a prominent and urgent one. Legacy began to swirl around my head more and more as we prepared for our last year in youth ministry together.
As I write this article at the end of 2016 we have now successfully transitioned our role as Youth Pastors at Nova Youth and I can honestly say that I could not be happier with our transition. I’m leaving with faith that what has started in us, has become bigger than us and will go on to outlive us!
Here’s 3 big things that I’ve learnt about legacy throughout my time as a Youth Pastor that may help you press pause and think about the legacy you’re leaving.
1) LEGACY IS ABOUT LEADERS, NOT LIKES
Let’s be real, big events, camps and conferences are some of our favourite things as Youth Pastors and Leaders, we absolutely love them! Not only do they create momentum for our youth ministry, but they are the prime opportunity to get that perfectly angled photo for Instagram that is bound to rake in the likes! Now, don’t get me wrong I love the gram as much as the next youth pastor, but sometimes the immediate and public pay off of an event can seem more appealing than the unseen, long-term pay off of investing into leaders.
Here’s the truth, events take short-term investment and have a short term pay off, Leaders take long-term investment but will have a long-term pay off. Are you building your youth ministry on your events or on your leaders? Event driven youth ministry may pay off immediately but leader driven youth ministry will leave a legacy!
2) LEGACY IS ABOUT WORKING ON IT, NOT IN IT
There’s never a shortage of urgent things in your youth ministry to work on! If there was i’d be concerned that you were running a lawn bowls club not a youth ministry! With heaps of urgent things to do it can be easy to get so caught up working IN your youth ministry that you can’t work ON your youth ministry.
If you are going to build a legacy, you must gradually delegate the tasks that are involved IN your youth ministry so that you can work ON your youth ministry. If you’re so busy following up every young person IN your youth ministry, you can’t be thinking about working ON your youth ministry so that it can handle more of those young people in the future. A Youth Pastor driven by urgency will only work IN the youth ministry, but a youth pastor driven by legacy will work ON the youth ministry.
3) LEGACY IS ABOUT BUILDING THE PLATFORM OF OTHERS, NOT YOUR OWN
As a leader, your voice matters, it really matters, I hope you know that! Your words mean more to those around you than you’ll ever know. Your words are a platform into the lives of your young people and leaders, a platform that holds weight, authority and influence. This platform has not been given to you for you, it’s been given to you for serving God and for serving your young people. When it comes time to transition your role you can either use that platform to make it about you and the past or about others and the future.
When it comes time to transition your role to the next leader, the best thing you can do with your platform is to use it to build the platform of the next leader. Use your words to build their authority, credibility and influence, not your own. Legacy is not about your platform of leadership in the past, it’s about establishing their platform of leadership in the future!
Pastor Brian Houston nails this thought perfectly:
“You can either leave a legacy, or you can leave a vacancy”
Let’s leave a legacy!
Article Written by: Sam Long – Associate Pastor at Rise Church, Adelaide, SA