5 Ways I Refreshed Relationships In My Life As A Youth Worker

Ryan Miller
September 26th, 2019

When I was young and just getting started in ministry I had a mentor tell me that you can not do ministry alone. At the time I didn’t know how true that statement would be, and yet how much I would struggle to maintain the vital relationships it takes to survive in ministry.

Maintaining healthy relationships with students, parents, co-workers, other youth pastors, spouses, teachers and the list could go on and on can be exhausting, but in the end they are necessary.

I am admittedly an introvert and given a choice I would much rather not be around people all that often. It’s not that I don’t like people, ok sometimes I don’t like them, but I just need some space. Relationships do not come naturally to me.  They take work and intentionality and although I don’t have a natural overwhelming desire to have a lot of them, I do see their necessity for my well being in ministry.

Here are 5 ways that I have refreshed my relationships over the years with the many people who have been a part of my ministry journey.

I try to be intentional.

Ok I know it seems simple, but often all it takes is a little bit of effort. Instead of just hoping that one day my relationships would feel right or would work, I decided to do something about them. Maybe it was committing to send a text every week or a card on special occasions, I worked at making sure I tried in my relationships. It’s amazing how a simple gesture can enhance a relationship and even take it to another level you didn’t expect it to. 

I work on changing me instead of the other person.

This could go so many ways because it is so easy to constantly find fault in what someone else is doing. It can be frustrating when others don’t do, say, or act in a way we want them to in a relationship. However, I have come to realize that I can not force someone else to change. Truly the only person I have control over is myself. When I started focusing on the things I was lacking in a particular relationship, it changed the overall relationship for the better. I can think of one time in particular when I was struggling with another church staff member. It was important that we had a decent working relationship, but we struggled to get on the same page. Finally, I decided that I needed to work through my issues. When I did our relationship dramatically improved. 

I identify what I want the relationship to be or look like.

It may sound trivial and carnal, but not every relationship is created equal. My relationship with my spouse is different than a relationship with a volunteer on my team. Instead of trying to make every relationship equal and the same, I identified what I wanted the relationship to be. There may be some people that for some reason or another can not and will not be your best friend, but they can be an extremely helpful level of support for your ministry. Instead of trying to make everyone your best friend, focus on finding the right place for them in your life and ministry. And you know what? They all can exist, but be beautifully different.

I let go of some old relationships to let new ones grow.

Change is hard. Many times it takes months even years to build up a friendship with someone and that investment of time can make it painful to let go. I know I have held on to some relationships for to long and it has hindered new relationships from growing. Sometimes it’s not a total removal of someone, but just rearranging them on the relationship scale. One of the hardest parts of ministry for me has been getting close to someone and then they leave. Many times those people had filled a very specific role in my life and it was scary to having to fill that role with someone new.

I listen more than I speak.

As a communicator we are so used to talking that it can be difficult to listen. When having a conversation with someone it is easy to hear the first thing they say and think of our response, and tune out the rest. Something that has helped me is to simply listen. Don’t worry about having to justify or explain a situation. Actually, listening may let you understand something in a completely new way. I made a commitment to always listen more than I speak.

Ryan Miller

Ryan serves at Open Door Church in Edenton, NC where he has been since 2012. Currently he oversees the entire family ministries (birth-12th grade) of the church as they work to empower and equip families in the discipleship process. When he’s not doing something at church you can find him watching college football, drinking cream soda or spending time with his 2 daughters and wife, Ashley.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.