Discipleship is one of the key aspects which makes youth ministry successful, but as leaders, despondency can set in for several reasons.

The numbers game

We tend to focus too much on the numbers, rather than on the quality of the discipleship. We can have large youth groups but if we are not able to create effective discipleship, with meaningful conversation and significant content, then we’ll have to rethink our strategy. If we don’t, Youth will become just like another hangout spot at a mall or coffee shop.

Quite often comparison sets in and we tend to get despondent when we look at other youth groups. We think we’re not being effective in our role as a leader because our group is smaller in size. In these moments, we should remain courageous and focus on loving others, not neglecting meeting together and teaching others in all wisdom, as it speaks about in Hebrews 10:24-25 and Colossians 3:16.

We should at all times try and make the most of discipleship and spend time with our group, as young people long for a place of belonging.

When youth say one thing and do another

Elvis Presley once said “Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do.”

Our words need to bear the good fruit of our behaviour. We must live what we talk about because people will be watching to see if we’re genuine. Maybe it’s just me but people watch us continuously before they can trust us. Only then does the discipling process begin.

It can be discouraging when young people say one thing and do another. So, before we’re too hard on them, we need to check that our own life, our values and behaviour is matching up. Ask yourself:

What are my values? Am I living them out daily? Do my values match my behaviour in every area of my life? What do I still need to work on to be more transparent, maintain a balance and remain accountable?

As leaders, we need to remember that even though we’re discipling others, we still need to be discipled in our journey. We can only impart into the lives of others if we are being filled up regularly. Once we’ve done this, we can encourage young people that their values define who they are with some integrity.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says it beautifully, that all scripture is God-breathed and whether it’s teaching, correcting, training or equipping, we are put together and shaped for the tasks God has in store for us.

Making disciples involves the community

It’s so easy when discipling to lose the actual emphasis of what the discipleship process is all about. We need to remember that we are part of the discipleship process, and not the only person involved in discipling a young person.

We need to take the “I” and “Me” out of discipling others and replace it with “Us”. In the Kingdom, we’re supposed to unite and not become prideful about what each other does, and who does what. Once we’re united, as the body of Christ, we would want to continuously make disciples and our passion for it will override the feeling of when we don’t want to anymore.

Matthew 28:16-20 doesn’t say go make disciples only when things are great. Jesus is saying go, and I will be with you regardless of the circumstances, whether they disappoint you or how you feel when they’ve let you down. It’s not about how you’re feeling, but about you making disciples through every season of your life.

Rise above the fear of insecurities

We cannot please everyone. There will be times when we will feel as if we’re failing. Times when we feel insecure and intimidated. We need to remember that we all have a unique style of how we do things and comparison is unfortunately not the answer.

Farida Bedwee says “Nobody is perfect. We all have a part of us that does not work well. Identify your disability and turn it into greatness. Take the risk. What do you have to lose? If you fail, the world won’t end. Just figure out what’s next and move on. We often miss out on opportunities when we are afraid of rejection.”

In times of despondency, when you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” May you rather shift your thinking to asking, “What is this trying to teach me?”, and in turn create a deeper sense of wanting to do the “What you do”, more and more.

So, even as you persist through the despondency of what you may face in your leadership role, may you find peace no matter the madness, chaos, hurt or pain because even in that, God is crafting a beautiful symphony in your life.

Take a listen to “Symphony,” by Dillon and Chase Swith.