As I drive on my commute, when I’m at the gym lifting iron, and often as I am falling asleep after a long day, I’m wearing headphones.
I listen to a variety of podcasts and audiobooks, trying to learn something new or enjoy a good story while being productive in other ways.
At the gym I’m focussed on two things. First, to do the exercises I’d like to do for the day at an intensity that will improve my health. And second, to listen to whatever is coming through my headphones.
As I look around the gym I notice everyone else doing the same. Everyone has headphones in their ears, listening to something they enjoy while working out.
As a side note, I think those who are actually working the hardest at the gym are often those who aren’t listening to anything. But I digress.
Often, I notice myself lowering the intensity of my exercise because I’m listening to something I’m interested in. Rather than being focussed, and pushing myself for the set of lifts, I’m more interested in what I’m hearing and so drop my intensity to around 80%. Instead of listening to my body, or pushing myself to achieve more, I have my focus elsewhere.
I wonder whether we do the same when we come to youth ministry?
Most of the time our connection points with people during the week happens while doing other things. It could be trying to talk to a student when youth group is about to begin. It could be a deep conversation with a young adult but small group has wrapped up and they’re about to be picked up. It could be talking to a parent after church but there are others lining up to speak with you.
In youth ministry there can be plenty of things, either in the moment or during the week, that can distract us from putting our full energies toward the task at hand. Whatever it is, there can be moments when we are distracted or lose focus.
The much overused verse from Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:31 is still true and valid, even for distracted youth leaders.
“…whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.”
This can apply to anything we put our mind to, and is relevant for us as we think about ‘focus’. To actually focus on the tasks at hand, such as, organising an event, having a conversation with a parent, introducing a student to another, creating the actual program, or driving someone home after their parents forgot them, will go a long way in glorifying God through our youth ministry.
This focus is intentionality.
It is about being present.
It is about the moment.
Perhaps it is time to take the headphones off and begin to focus on the youth ministry tasks at hand.