Content is king, they say. I don’t know who “they” are, but we allow “them” to dictate how we feel way too often.
Most people reading this can feel the pressure of coming up with more content. It can be so overwhelming!
To always feel like we need to be creating, coming up with new ideas, new words to pen on a page, new experiences for teens, new ways to say the same truths that have stood the test of time, but since we are in a new culture, we need new ways to tell them.
I think about the other youth pastors reading this, the ones who are in a similar situation—the desire to engage emotionally, relationally, and spiritually with your students and provide transformative content.
Sermongate 2021. Breaking news, right? Pastors are getting in trouble for copying sermons from others and using them as their own words.
Wherever you stand on the issue and its morals, it speaks to the hunger we all have to put out content for the people around us while we are still way too busy.
How can your average youth pastor juggle all that is important and continue to push out content? This Sunday night, I hit a wall of anxiety and stress, just feeling like I couldn’t get it all done on my own. I look at all the stuff on my plate in life right now, being a young dad with another child on the way, juggling youth ministry, school, and this week preparing to give the weekend message on the main platform.
For some of you, that is just a tiny piece of the busyness in your life. The truth is we put more pressure on ourselves than anyone else. We compare ourselves to others who are “able to do more with even less,” and we can lose sight of the most critical work that is happening, legitimate life change in our students and our families.
This last weekend we baptized five students. Maybe you read my post about Jonathan a couple of months back, but one of the students was here only because God used Jonathan to reach him in a foster home.
Even in that, we can assume that life change happened because of the content we create and what we do, but often it is not in that.
I had dinner with some young adults the other day, who had been in the youth ministry, graduated out, and are now doing life. We reminisced together, and the moments they remembered most weren’t the amazing teachings or the worship nights, or the chances to serve, though those impacted them; it was the relationships over time that helped them learn and grow in their relationship with Jesus. We often know this to be true, but we still get caught in the trap of comparison and content creation instead of prioritizing our time to just being present with students and engaging in conversation and life with them.
When we read between the lines of scripture, we see a man who spent months of His life just traveling with his companions. I wish we could see the moments and laughter shared amongst the disciples on the road from town to town, the deep prayers they shared, and the life lived out together.
How much of our time do we spend creating when we should be cultivating?
Our job is to cultivate or our walk with Jesus then relationships with students and parents.
What if our priority wasn’t on trying to create content and instead gave ourselves a break?
What if we stopped doing things that drain us and focused on what Jesus is doing in our hearts and the hearts of the students and families we minister to.
I believe we would not only find a greater sense of peace, but we’d also stumble onto even better ways to do what is most important.
Cody is the youth pastor at Alive Church in Tucson, AZ.