A few years back my dad told me this saying: “You can never have too many arrows in your quiver.”

I really liked that.

That saying has stayed with me since. It means you can never have too many skills or experiences that you can learn from and keep with you. Basically, if there is an opportunity to learn something – then go for it. If there is a chance to try a new experience – embrace it. Pack your quiver with skills and knowledge and experience. These “arrows” will help you as you journey forward.

Right now, across the world, we’re all on a similar journey. Learning to navigate life through a global pandemic. Things look quite different now.  2020 was difficult for the majority. For others it was a well needed reset or rest.  And now with the dawning of 2021 and the anticipation and rolling out of the vaccine – we’re filled with a boost of hope. But still a little anxious too.

A big responsibility

We as youth pastors, have felt a big responsibility on our shoulders and hearts. Whether it’s the God given compassion from Him. Or maybe you’ve heard His mandate: take care of My sheep (John 21:16).

You’ve done your best with your people.  You’ve carried and cried and cared as much as you can.

Firstly, thank you!  Some of you have dug into your quiver of ministry skills and experiences and you’re using arrows “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Others are learning new skills that are now part of your quiver. Well done!

If you paused for a moment – you would realise. You’re feeling tired. Exhausted even. Maybe you sense a spiritual burnout. Or maybe you too have screen fatigue.

So, pause.

Before you carry on reading this.

Inhale. Slowly.

Exhale. Slowly.

Do that a few times. Be present to every breath.

Be. Here. Now.

A typical youth pastor

Have you ever heard people say this of you: “You’re a typical youth pastor?”

In a light-hearted way, I thought of some ‘typical youth pastor things’ and added a deeper spin to them.

Youth pastors love ‘having coffee’

There is this great prayer by Richard Foster. A prayer at coffee time. Maybe right now, as you’re reading this. Stop. Go make a cuppa and come back and pray this:

Somehow, Jesus, I like praying with a cup of coffee in my hands. I guess the warmth of the cup settles me and speaks of the warmth of your love. I hold the cup against my cheek and listen, hushed and still. I blow on the coffee and drink. O Spirit of God blow across my little life and let me drink in your great life. Amen.

I found last year when lockdown started, I was often ‘more present’ with daily little things like having coffee. I put more weight on each moment. And I’m trying to continue with that. But maybe you want to try that too? The point is not to be present with the actual drinking. But to be present with God. But using the times of drinking coffee (or tea) to slow yourself down. To have a breather.

Youth pastors are not very punctual

Maybe in this time, where we can’t go many places… we can finally “be on time.” Which reminds me – maybe this is the time to take stock. To ask ourselves “what sort of time are we in?” Let’s go to Ecclesiastes 3 to ponder:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the
human heart.”

What sort of time is it for you now? Do you need to plant something? Or do you need to uproot something? You get the idea. Sit with the passage.

Youth pastors have YouVersion

Funny enough, I only got the bible app on my phone in June 2020. I did think it was a cliché to have it. 😉 But now, I really love it. The Bible Plans have really helped me focus.  (And I was doing them with my brother, so it was a good bro thing we did. Felt connected to one another.)

There are some worship artists like Matt Redman and Mosaic MSC that have done plans based on their songs. I really like those. I read through the thought, the verses and then I listen to the song. Focussing on the words.

When last have you focused on the words?

When last have you been filled with wonder?  Wonder of who God is.

There seems to be a theme here, in this piece.  Maybe, one of the arrows that we should have in our quiver – is the ability to slow down and be present.

Youth pastors use the word “awesome” a lot

(I just thought this was funny!  It’s true!) Keep on living with that fascination.  Because in the words of Emmet: Everything is awesome!

But above is my list and my suggestions. Maybe you will find them useful. However, YOU be YOU. What are the things that work for you?  “What arrows can you put in your quiver.”

What things and habits can you do that will sustain you?  That will refresh your soul.

One last reminder:

you are a human being, not a human doing.

Now, go and be with God.

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