Every home has a “catch all” place. It may be a desk, table, top of a dresser, a drawer, a place where stuff gets dropped. Some of those things have a place they should go but the person doing the placing is too lazy to take the extra moment to put the item in its proper place. Some items we just aren’t sure where to put it so we put it in the “catch all” place. If you don’t have one of these places in your home I applaud your OCDness.
In many churches the youth pastor can become the “catch all”. Often youth pastors find themselves doing many things outside the realm of student ministry. “Oh, you know how to operate a Mac! Great! Can you set up the Pro Presenter in the auditorium?” The guitar in your office gets noticed and next thing you know you are on the platform in big church leading worship and you only know three chords. You become 411 for the church. Remember 411? That was the number you would call to get a phone number of an individual. So you get texts, emails, phone calls from church members who are looking for another member’s phone number even though all members have access to the church’s online directory. Why? You know how to work a computer and you work for the church.
There is a danger when youth pastors don’t learn to say “No”. The danger is they soon find themselves inundated with tasks that have nothing to do with their position. I’m not saying we shouldn’t all pitch in and help and think about the team. What I am saying is when you find yourself so busy doing tasks that are unrelated to student ministry that you don’t have time to actually do student ministry you have become the “catch all” of the church. It’s no one else’s fault but my own when I end up as the “catch all”.
Find freedom from the “catch all”:
1..Remember your calling. God has called you to minister to students and their parents. This is your number one priority at work. If you become the “catch all” you cannot put in the time and energy necessary to do quality student ministry. Your position is motivated by your passion. When you find yourself pulled from student ministry you find yourself no longer serving in the zone of your passion and then you become a miserable.
2. Say “No”. Remember your purpose. Does the request fit the purpose of your church’s student ministry? If not the answer is “No.” Learn to say “no” in a kind way. “As much as I would love to play my guitar on Sunday morning it will pull me away from doing what I need to do to minister to students this week.”
3. The ministry idea. When you get approached about a ministry idea you need to have your response planned and practiced in advance. “That’s an awesome ministry idea, “That’s an awesome ministry idea.I think you would be the perfect leader for that ministry.”
4. The closed door. I practiced this yesterday afternoon. I was working on the message and small group discussion for Sunday night so I closed my door. I let our volunteer in the office know that I wan’t being rude but needed to work on my message and Sunday night’s youth worship service. Creating this habit creates a “do not disturb” signal to the staff and members who might just pop in. When we are planning and working on our student worship service we need to give that planning time our full attention.
5. Keep office hours. Make sure there are times set aside that you are in the office and that members are welcome to drop in and see you during those times. Post it on your door.
6. Texts don’t have to be answered immediately. If you are home with your family or during your “off” time you don’t have to reply to the text or email immediately, if it’s an emergency that’s different. Just because texting exists doesn’t mean that immediate response is required. Let your voice mail catch the call, listen to the message, if it’s an emergency call back, if not call the member back tomorrow when you are in the office.
7. Do what you do best and delegate the rest. I don’t have to be the one that fixes the bathroom stall door, honestly I would probably mess it up more. There are people in your church who have that talent. God has equipped your church with all types of gifts and talents, tap into the members and let them experience the joy of serving.
Take some time and evaluate if you are a “catch all” in your church. What steps can you take to be free from the “catch all”?