Sometimes my kids (my biological ones) need me to bring an injection of life and fun into their day. For whatever reason, they can get bogged down by the routine of life, or just start getting on each others’ nerves. And what they need is for me to just bring a fresh infusion into their experience of life. Often its physical for me—I’ll tackle them to the ground, start tickling them, and then wrestling with them. Or I’ll come up with a great new game—my kids love spy stuff, so one time I hid clues all throughout the house, each one leading to the next. At each clue they had a special spy task to perform, with secret boxes and notebooks, and codes to decipher. It was awesome. I love this interaction with my kids.
I share that story, because this is something that we, as youth leaders, need in our lives too (no, I’m not saying you need me to come play spies with you—although it would be fun!). I was thinking the other day that I’ve easily led close to 900 youth meetings in my life. I have developed “ways that I do things,” personal preferences, styles, and “go-to” strategies for everything. And while that sounds nice, it can be really dangerous.
Lately God has been urging me to lead a revelation-based life. Paul says in Galatians 1:12 (NKJV), “For I neither received it [the message] from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I am convinced that a healthy ministry must follow this same pattern. If it does not, then we are just working from our own strength, our own know-how, and our own ability. Which will, in the end, burn us out. If we are to last and be victorious in the long run, we must do ministry from revelation. We must invite the Holy Spirit to enter our ministries and bring that new, fresh life just like I do with my kids. We need him to impart new vision, fresh direction, exciting ideas, inspired opportunities, and more!
This is true not just for our ministries, though, it is also true for our lives. Our finances need to be driven by revelation. Our marriages need to be driven by revelation. Our relationships; our parenting; our side jobs—all that we are and do will be more fulfilling and overflowing with life if we allow the Holy Spirit to continually breath his fresh leading into it.
For me, this happens only if I do a few very simple, but concrete, steps:
- Pray. In all things I need to be disciplined to invite the Lord into every situation—whether ministry or life—and ask for his leading and his revelation. I need to ask the Lord, “What do you want here? What ideas do you have? What wisdom or fresh perspective do you have that I’m not coming to on my own?”
- Listen. To be honest, the “pray” part is pretty easy for me. I love to tell God lots of stuff, but it very easily becomes one-sided. This step is the one that God is really working on in my life. How often do I listen? How often do I take some time before youth group, before a ministry event, or even before making a financial decision, and just listen? Do you ever just take a half-hour and pray about your group, but never listen? What if you asked God to speak to you, and then wrote all that came to you? I wonder what you’d discover!
- Act. OK I lied. Maybe this step is the hardest one for me. I have notepads and stickies everywhere with ideas I’ve received in prayer. Only a small percentage come to pass, and that’s on me usually. After hearing from God it’s very easy to just go on with the status quo. It can be challenging to implement what God has revealed because often it requires some sort of change—and change can be difficult. But it is worth it! We recently revamped our entire leadership structure at youth group because God was speaking to us about that. It has been a lot of work, but even in the first week, I’m already seeing tons of fruit!
So I encourage you (and me!) to take the time to be led by revelation. It usually doesn’t happen on accident. Let’s invite our loving Father to jump in with us, rather than forcing him to watch from the sidelines. Let’s invite him, and allow him, to impart his creative vision, his life, and his grace into all that we do.