If you want your youth ministry to be keep growing, you need to keep growing. Seek God yourself. And not just for a sermon, but for an encounter. Your habits and convictions will inevitably set the culture in your youth ministry. You can't take your teenagers to a place you've never been. So never stop pursuing the presence of God yourself. You're a Christian, before you're a Pastor.
At the very centre of Christmas is the greatest gift ever given, and if accepted the greatest love ever known. Christmas is so much more than presents, it’s about His presence being made available to us through the birth of His son, Jesus.
Have you ever been hurt? Like someone you really loved let you down and broke your trust? Maybe your best friend called you names behind your back? Or your mum made you feel like you weren't good enough? Maybe your dad abandoned you, or your boyfriend broke up with you when he pledged his undying love. Maybe it's worse like adultery, assault, or abuse?
People often ask me, "So how do you hear the voice of God? Does He speak to you audibly?" Well no, not necessarily. In fact, I have only heard Him speak to me audibly once. For the most part, He speaks as a still small voice in my heart. He speaks to me through His word, in pictures, visions, and of course, dreams. What I have discovered over the years is how creative God is. He will use just about anything, anyone, and any method to speak to those who are listening.
Someone needs to hear this today. You’re not the only person struggling to feel significant. You’re not the only Christian drowning in depression. You're not the only Pastor who wants to quit ministry. You're not the only person carrying shame from abuse. You’re the not only single wanting to get married. You’re not the only guy (or girl) addicted to pornography.
Did you know it's possible to spend your life serving God and end up not really knowing Him? It's possible to build a big Church, big youth ministry or big online platform and completely forget who it's all really for. It's possible to walk out your journey of faith and actually leave Jesus behind (Seriously Jesus' own parents did. Check out Luke 2:43). And at times I have too. At times I have thrown myself so passionately into serving God, that I have neglected pursuing Him.
I may not be royalty, but all I know is my Dad's the King. He's bigger than any celebrity and stronger than the Rock. He always keeps His words, just in His timing and not mine. He's with me every moment, when I feel Him and when I don't. His will is better than my own, so I trust when He says, “no.” He's good on the good days, and better on the bad ones.
So often in life I found myself chasing things, titles, people, achievements and accolades to maintain a sense of self-worth and value. Only to be left unsatisfied. At 10, I thought a needed a new Huffy bike to be cool (true story). At 12, I thought I needed a boyfriend to call me beautiful and boost my ego. At 14, I thought I needed the perfect body to feel good about myself (and so people would stop thinking I was still in primary school, for real though).
We pay more attention to people online, than those sitting in front of our faces. We reach for our phones and check how many likes before we even get out of bed. We have hundreds of "friends" (on Facebook at least), but very few who know us for real. We take a million selfies, but deep down we don't even like what we see. We work more, but enjoy less. We have big opinions, but little understanding. We have more things, but less contentment. We talk a lot, but forget to listen.
My virginity was not a determination of my Christianity, it was an outworking of my faith I did not do it to please God or other Christians. I did it because I believed God was a loving dad that had my best interests at heart. I believed His word was truth and a guide for getting the most out of life.