Don’t Throw in the Towel

So – I heard you want to quit.  Walk away.  Exchange the glamorous life of youth ministry for something that pays and involves appreciation.  I heard you’re ready to throw in the towel.

I understand.  Most days you love youth ministry– if by love you mean survive.  Some days are brutal – and all you can do is simply crave survival.  More than a few times in the last 23 years I have considered throwing in the towel – so I get it.

  • But if you throw in the towel – what are you going to use to wipe up that orange soda that got spilled on the sanctuary carpet during the lock-in? Actually a towel won’t help, that baby is going to stain.
  • If you throw in the towel – what are you going to do when THAT junior high boy at summer camp FINALLY decided to shower….because you know he didn’t take anything into the bathroom with him?
  • Who – and with what – will someone wipe the tears from the face of a desperate mother whose kid has just made a life-altering mistake.
  • Without your towel how can you make a tourniquet for the heart of that teenage girl?  You know – the one who was in love with that jerk, but got used and tossed aside like the six girls before her?  You need that towel to stop the bleeding.
  • Washing the feet of your pastor is impossible without the towel.
  • And where are you going to wipe your hands clean after repairing the chain on your son’s bike for the 37th time – how will you wash the dishes after cooking dinner for your wife because she’s exhausted after a long day of supplementing a meager ministry income?  You finally make a moment to have a tea party with your daughter – and lo and behold, the mater de doesn’t have his towel.

Paul talked about it this way:

“Even though I [could be] free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!  You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.”

If you throw in the towel, what will you use to wipe the sweat from your eyes when the race is over?

Dealing with Discouragement in Ministry

Dealing with Discouragement in Ministry

SYMC 2012

Peer Panel: Darren Sutton, Leneita Fix, Brit Windel, Chris Schaffner

Discouragement will come.  It doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad Christian.  Here are some tips from the panel and some verses we embrace when we get discouraged in ministry.


Darren  (@darrensutton):         Accountability (beyond venting) is key!

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.                                                                                                                              2 Corinthians 4:16-18

The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:   They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.  None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.                                                                     Romans 8.35-39


Leneita (@leneitafix):                You must, must, must stay grounded and invested in the Word and Person of Jesus

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain”.                                                                                                            1 Corinthians 15:58

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.  The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.         Psalm 34 :17-19


Brit (@brit_windel):                    Measure your concern vs. your influence

I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.

Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:

The faithful love of the LORD never ends!
His mercies never cease.

Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!

The LORD is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.

So it is good to wait quietly
for salvation from the LORD.

Lamentations 3.20-26


Chris (@conversefringe):          Speak the words of the beloved over yourself

Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.     Deuteronomy 33:12

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.         John 14:27



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