It happens to all of us sooner or later. If you're in youth ministry long enough it will happen more than once. What do you do when things don't go your way?
You have an amazing brainstorm -- maybe it comes to you just as you're waking up at 5 in the morning. A great idea about how to revolutionize your youth program, or a plan for a mission trip to a foreign land that will impact your teens forever, or a new ministry focus that will help turn your church around. Or maybe it's just a great idea for a new study or event. The excitement builds as you work out a plan for this new thing and then you present it to your leaders.....and they aren't interested. Or perhaps worse -- they think it's a lousy idea and they don't mind detailing for you exactly why. What do you do? You're convinced this idea is not only good, but it's the right thing for your ministry, but no one else is really behind it. What do you do?
1) Remember it's not all about you: It's easy in these situations to take the rejection personally. "If they really respected my leadership," you might be thinking, "They'd trust me on this." You might start wondering if some of the naysayers have it in for you or if it's time to start looking for a new church where they will love all of your new ideas instantly! At times like this it helps to remember that we are called to serve the mission of the church -- not the other way around. The whole point of being a community of faith is to have a shared mission, not a collection of individual agendas. Furthermore, people reject new ideas for all sorts of reasons, most of which probably will have nothing to do with you. Lastly, though it might be hard to hear this, it just might be that your new idea stinks! Be open to that possibility and really listen to what others are telling you.
2) Rethink your plan: Maybe your new idea is just a little too bold, too big, or even scary to some who are happy with the status quo. But perhaps you could adapt your plan. Start with just one piece of it and work on that for awhile. Postpone your plan. Six months or a year from now might make all the difference in others being ready to accept the idea. Go to a different group in the church and see if they might be more receptive to trying your new approach. Perhaps the best idea of all: Present your idea to just a few individuals and get their feedback and hopefully their buy-in. It's much easier to create excitement around something if you already have a few core church members who are also passionate about the plan and want to support it.
3) Let it Go: Sometimes an idea is before its time. Sometimes an idea that sounds great at 5:00 in the morning or looks great on paper just isn't practical in application. At some point, if you can't get others to support your brainstorm, it's time to ask 1) Is it such a great idea if no one else is willing to support it? or 2) Is continuing to fight for this idea worth the time, energy, and possible conflict? Ultimately, this comes down to priorities about what's most important in the ministry you have been called to in the Church. The best plan, in the end, might be just to let it go and focus on the big stuff.
What about you? Ever been in this situation? I have -- more times than I'd care to share. What have been your experiences with something in ministry not going your way? What did you do about it?