Our pastor just celebrated 20 years of ministry at the same church this past Sunday. It was a blessing to share in the story that celebrated his consistent ministry at the same place. It made me look back on the journey that God has been taking me on so far. In October I will begin year 10 of serving as girls minister at Brentwood Baptist. I had no idea that I would still be here at Brentwood Baptist almost 10 years after I started. I’m so glad that I’ve been able to see what girls ministry looks like at the same place for this many years. I can only imagine the momentum that people like my pastor can experience as they’ve journeyed with our congregation for 20 years! For those of you that have just peeled into your first days, months, or years of working with girls whether in a ministerial role, director role, or volunteer role, I wanted to share some things that I’ve learned in hopes that it will be an encouragement for you.
1. There will be hard days.
That may not seem encouraging but hopefully it reminds you that you are not alone in this journey. Ministry to girls and their families can be hard. If you heard that it’s all about drinking coffee and being the coolest person in the lives of teenaged girls—well someone gave you the wrong job description. Those tough times may come with girls, with parents, with volunteers, with your staff, or even with yourself—but they do not last.
2. Develop a prayer team
Make sure you have a group of people that you trust to truly pray for you. Pick a few from your church, but choose people that know you apart from the ministry. It allows you to share things that you may be required to be guarded about (not confidential items with students or families, but regarding your struggles and pains).
3. Have a mentor.
Always be willing to learn. I have known people that have asked me to mentor them, but when it came down to it, they were not very teachable. Continue to learn as you journey down this road of girls ministry. I’m still learning tons so trust me, you don’t know it all.
4. Stop looking around at what other people are doing.
I know it gets distracting and you hear that so and so just had this cool gig or this girls minister just got asked to do this, but you are not called to be them at their place of ministry. God is at work in you where you are, so be present there. You’ll miss you’re own story if you’re not careful.
Make sure you have boundaries in place so that you are able to be refilled and away from girls ministry sometime during the week. This is important to your health but also it is a weekly reminder that the world keeps spinning without you.
6.Keep thirsting for God’s word for yourself.
Don’t just be a straw that transfers God’s truth to another. Make sure you are soaking up God’s word for yourself.
7.Take a spiritual prayer retreat on regular basis
Our pastor has made it mandatory that our ministers take spiritual prayer retreats regularly. He recognizes the necessity of such days in the life of those who give their lives away daily. You need to have days where you don’t work on girls ministry. Days where you don’t meet with people. Days when you only spend completely in communion with God. Sometimes we can trick ourselves into thinking our value and identity comes from what we do and not from whose child we are. It’s such an important time, and ironically it’s a day that often gets neglected if it’s not scheduled.
8. Begin to look at your place in ministry as a crockpot, not a microwave.
So often, we want to see results now. But what if I told you that serving alongside the same people for a considerable time brings richness that you would never know if you just zapped the experience with a microwave. Sometimes we are looking for the next big thing and we’ve been taught that bigger is better or “moving up” is the best thing. Sometimes you may be called to “stay” in a place for a long while and if that’s the case, let me assure you that there is a momentum that occurs when you are willing to say no to stepping stones, and yes to digging roots. Some people don’t have this calling, but if you do—-it will be worth the wait.
I’m sure there are so many other things I could share that I’ve learned, but those are top of mind tonight. I’m excited to see what happens as I continue to journey with these girls and their families over the next several years. I continue to learn new things on this journey. For example, we just found out we’re expecting! So I soon will be able to minister as a mom and I’m delighted to see how having my own child adds a richness to the ministry God has called me to. Should be a fun beginning to a new decade! What about you? What encouragement do you have for those who are just beginning this journey?