Last week I was at our UCCF Staff Conference and one my favourite speakers; Lindsay Brown came to speak to us. He has many years of experience in the field of student work and he spoke about the top 10 challenges he has as a student worker, which really impacted me and I would like to share with you.
Here are 10 challenges or pitfalls of a student worker. This is also a list for a missionary or a minister or a student on committee:
1. Lack of clear focus – Your vision needs to be clear. What do you want to achieve this year? How are you going to do that? What are you aiming for? Without a clear focus or vision you will just bumble through and probably feel like you haven’t achieved anything.
2. Pride – Doing student work is a privilege. All the gifts given to you and me are from God and there is no space for us to be proud. This is an easy one to fall into. With pride comes comparing and competing in an unhealthy way. We think the strength and numbers of the student work is down to us and we will get puffed up in pride.
3. Neglect – You are not a superhero. You can’t do everything. You have to rest, take days off and say no to things. If you neglect your emotional, physical and spiritual needs then you will either have a breakdown half way through or you will finish your time in ministry really hating it.
4. Dryness – Keep up your reading. It is easy in ministry to just get on with it. To be productive and write bible studies and talks and meet students. But if you are not daily in the word and prayer and if you are not feeding yourself with reading good books then you will become dry. Everyday tell yourself the Gospel.
5. Jealousy – Learn to rejoice in Gods work in what others are doing. It is easy to look over at someones patch or ministry and feel jealous that they are doing so well while you struggle over here. We need to learn to rejoice in the ministry that others are doing because again the ministry isn’t about you or even the other person – it is about Jesus.
6. Bitterness – Learn to develop a bottomless capacity for handling disappointment. In ministry you will get disappointed. Things wont go as you hoped, people will let you down, things will crumble… and that is ok. Grace is the fountain from which all joyful service flows. When things don’t turn out as you expected you either become bitter or better. Choose Better.
7. Short-termism – Leave a legacy. Don’t just think about tomorrow or this term. Think about long-term – the next 3 to 5 years. What is your vision for them? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? What are you aiming for? Build for life. What do you want to invest in now so that it builds foundations for the future?
8. Isolation – It’s a team game. Student work can feel very isolating. I know I have felt that at times. However we were never made to be on our own. Ministry is a team game. So gather people to journey with you, to pray and support you, to mentor you and guide you and to do ministry together. You can’t do this on your own.
9.Desire for Status – There is a cost for all Christian Service. It is easy to like and love the status that comes with being a staff worker or minister. You get an identity that makes you feel important. But that will soon come crashing down. If you desire status you will be disappointed and will soon run out of joy.
10. Danger of giving up because of discouragement – Finish Well. Don’t give up when things aren’t going well. Don’t give up when the CU is diminishing in number, your 121s don’t turn up, the SU wont let you use rooms, when people don’t understand and critique your ministry, when you see no one come to Christ for years… don’t give up. Persevere. Keep Going. It is the Lord that does the work, we just scatter the seeds. Turn to him in your discouragement and lean upon him for strength.
All those 10 things I have come across myself and hearing them from Lindsay was a real challenge. I hope for all of us in what ever ministry we are doing are able to be encouraged and challenged by these things.