Have you ever felt like giving up in ministry? Of course you have! Every youth leader at some time or another has wondered if their ministry would be better off without them. Being in student ministry is filled with so many moments that cause us to question our ability to lead well.
Believe it or not, when I think of someone who had moments where it may have been easier to give up, my mind goes to Paul. He understood failure intimately. In one particular journey, Paul traveled to the city of Ephesus and began teaching at the local synagogue.
Three long months went by of hard work and long conversations with his fellow Jewish brethren. Yet despite his best efforts, some people harden their hearts and Paul realized he needed a different plan.
Try This! ❯
Students oftentimes feel like they cannot measure up. Take some time this week during your lesson to highlight a “failure” that God used.
Looking at this situation would seem grim. Paul just spent months trying to help his fellow people understand the gospel. The results? “Some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way (Acts 19:9).
Sounds a lot like youth ministry at times, right? We pour hundreds of hours into a disciple multiplication strategy for students who can be resistant toward it all. They can mistake our passion for a pitch, or see our interest as self-seeking. Yet with blood, sweat and oftentimes tears, we pursue our students with love. Are we fools? Have we become so naïve that we think we can possibly make a difference in the life of a student?
Here are four reasons to never give up:
1. The gospel cannot be stopped
Ever since Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden, Satan and his demons have been trying to interfere with God’s redemptive plans for humanity. Yet despite their best efforts to ruin the plans of God, the gospel cannot be stopped. Hold tightly to this truth. Even if you find yourself leading a ministry with obstacles around every corner, know that God will make a way. If you are feeling discouraged, go to Him in prayer. Ask God to help you. He knows what you need and will see you through every situation.Despite the arrows that flew toward God’s plan of redemption, the gospel could not be stopped. Click To Tweet
2. You aren’t responsible for the results
Believe it or not, you aren’t responsible for the results. People may expect you to “change” the students in your ministry, but that isn’t your job. You cannot change the heart of a person—that’s God’s job. All you are responsible for is being faithful in your service to Him. Help your students understand this, as well. As they try to share their faith with others, there will be some who will feel defeated if their friends don’t come to Christ. Remind them that they are simply planting and watering seeds; they cannot force them to grow.
3. God uses failures
Failure is a reality. If the greatest church leaders in the history of the world (i.e., John, James, Peter, Paul, etc.) failed, then so will you. The sooner your students realize that you are not perfect, the sooner you will be free to do real ministry. That is, students don’t want to open up to someone who makes it seem as if they are “perfectly put together.” Rather, they will relate to someone who is struggling with the ever-present reality of living in a fallen world, just like them. Instead, focus on inspiring your students to see that God can use them despite their failures.
4. The gospel is worth it!
You’ve probably told your students by now that sharing the love of God with others is always worth it. And it is completely true. But living in a fallen world that likes to beat us up causes us to lose sight of it. We get hurt by a student or parent and feel tempted to quit. But there will be a day when all of the pain and suffering in this world will fade away, and we will realize that every struggle we endured for the sake of Christ and His Cause was well worth it. Every person who comes to know the Lord through your ministry has been brought to life and saved from hell (and there will very likely be many that you will never know about until you reach the other side of eternity).
After Paul’s failure at the synagogue in Ephesus, he took the believers with him and began teaching at the school of Tyrannus. He could have easily given up, but he stuck with it. And it is a good thing he did, because something remarkable happened: Paul continued to teach there for two years until “people throughout the province of Asia—both Jews and Greeks—heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10).
Sometimes victory is right around the corner. No matter what, don’t give up. Keep on advancing the gospel and making disciples.
Want more practical advice on mobilizing your teens to share the gospel? All of our Mobilize stories offer great ideas for training your students and building a Gospel Advancing Ministry. Sign up here to receive this free, hands-on, weekly resource in your inbox!