5 Ways To Find A Best Fit In Ministry
I have said “no” to more than one youth worker position.
Every time has been hard. I love youth work in all its forms. It is easy for me to meet a group of teenagers and become excited about being a part of their lives. But I’m not the right fit for every youth worker position. “Fit” can be a hard quality to define. But it is imperative that we have an understanding of it because I’m not likely to become the right fit for a position by trying harder. I’m either the right fit, or I’m not. For me, “fit” means that all the different qualities that make me who I am (aside from degrees, experience, and competency) somehow make me the right or the wrong person for a particular role within a particular ministry.
So how do I determine if I’m the best fit? I consider five things: Gifting, Values, Relationships/Chemistry, Hopes, and Theology.
Gifting. I am a teacher. I derive joy from teaching new information and skills to people of all ages. That is especially true when it comes to teaching the Bible. I’m good at this. If I am unable to teach the Bible in some capacity at least weekly, I know that I’m not utilizing one of my greatest strengths in ministry. You need to find a position that requires you to use your gifts frequently. If you are an evangelist, you need to evangelize. If you are hospitable, you need to host.
Values. We all know that different churches and ministries have different values. Some commission their teenagers to missional work as often as possible. Others seek to be the kind of youth group that unchurched teens will gladly join. Some focus on an educational approach to sanctification. And others elevate experiences and feeling close to God. All of these emphases are valuable. However, when it comes to finding the right fit, you need to determine if your values and those of the ministry are aligned. If they aren’t, when your head pastor announces another mission trip, you may be asking yourself, “But shouldn’t our teenagers be able to express the Gospel in their own words first?” If you’re having those thoughts often, you may want to evaluate your fit in the ministry.
Relationships/Chemistry. Partnering in ministry can be a delight and powerful. It’s a good thing that almost all ministry areas require working with other people. It can also be a nightmare. I’m not convinced that you have to be best friends with your ministry partners. However, a functioning, healthy relationship is necessary. You will see these people almost daily. You will make decisions with them, rely on them, trust them, take criticism from them, and need them to succeed. Ask yourself this question and pay close attention to your feelings. Could you pray with your ministry partners on a daily basis? If you bristle at the thought of being that close, something doesn’t fit.
Another aspect of your relationships to consider is the ones you have outside your ministry. How does your role impact your family? Is your spouse blessed or burdened by your role? Does your role allow opportunities to develop friendships outside your ministry? How does it impact your children? While it is important to have healthy relationships with your ministry partners, they should not become your entire support network.
Hopes. When I consider a ministry position, I need to imagine the future for my family and myself. My wife and I talk about what we want to achieve over the next few years and over the next several years. We discuss what kind of parents we want to be for our children. This can be very complicated because we are constantly reminding ourselves that what we want is not as important or as good as what God wants for us and from us. And yet, it would be unwise to disregard our hopes entirely.
Theology. Last, but not of least importantance, are your particular theological leanings. Are they congruent with the theological leanings of your ministry partners and ministry organization? It is not likely that you will be a part of a team that agrees entirely on every theological issue. You need to determine the level of your convictions. Are you a six-day-creationist who cannot abide partnering with a theological evolutionist? Or do you view that as a minor disagreement? What about matters of conversion and sanctification?
Basically, finding the best fit comes down to analyzing yourself and the ministry role very carefully. If you are trying to assess your fit, here are several questions I recommend you ask yourself. What do I love to do most in ministry? Am I getting to do those “most loved things” in this position? What do I focus on in any ministry? What do I try to accomplish no matter what? How is this affecting/going to affect my family? What kind of husband/wife/father/mother/etc. will I be if I take this position? How do I see this position playing out in the next few years? How about in the next seven to ten years? Do I enjoy the time I spend with my ministry partners? Are we constantly inundated with distracting theological arguments?
Determining the right fit can be a long and difficult task. But it is absolutely necessary that you figure it out. You owe it to yourself and to the ministry.
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.