It’s club night.
You have frozen waffles and tennis rackets for the first game. Did you remember the ping-pong balls and sharpies for the mixer? You hope so…And does someone else know to bring a box of Froot Loops and a roll of duct tape??
As you rush into the pre-club meeting 5 minutes later than you hoped, you’re also praying that the person giving the club talk is more prepared than they were 24 hours ago. And great! Making the announcement slides slipped your mind in the midst of everything else.
It’s only 6:05, and already you’re ready for club to be done. It’s only Wednesday, and already you’ve put in 30 hours at the office. None of your once-consistent students have showed up the last couple weeks, and your leadership team approaches events with ever-increasing apathy.
You begin to wonder if leading Young Life is still a good use of your time because honestly, you’re exhausted. And for all the energy you’ve been expending, you don’t know if you’re even impacting students.
I’m only in my second year of leading Young Life College, and I can identify with the feeling of over-committing and under-performing on a spiritual level.
Leading in an outreach ministry is a privilege—I have the joy of meeting students and sharing the gospel with them, maybe for the first time. I’m able to expose the truth of my savior with students who may never set foot into a church, and I take my role in pointing people to the truth very seriously.
But for all the unique blessings that outreach ministry presents, it also presents unique challenges:
- Trying to reach as many students as you can—not because it’s about the numbers, but because you want the expanse of the gospel to be far and wide.
- Trying to create clubs that are engaging and energetic—not because it’s about a show, but because you seek to exemplify the joy of the Lord in tangible ways.
- Trying to stay connected with students from previous years —not because you have to, but because you’re invested in the relationships you’ve already built.
In the midst of meeting new students, planning weekly events, doing contact work, and spending time with students you already know, leading easily becomes the equivalent of a part-time job. And as you continually stack up the expectations you have—both for yourself and your co-leaders—it’s easy to burn out and wonder what you’re doing.
Friends, it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to be exhausted. You don’t have to accept burnout or feelings of inadequacy as parts of your daily emotional landscape.
I’m an expert of “needing to do more,” but in the places where my own strength to lead runs out, I see the Lord move in the sweetest ways. This is the truth He spoke to me, the truth I have to preach to myself every week (and sometimes more than that):
Do it for the one.
Are you connecting with one student, building that relationship, and speaking truth to them? Because if so, you are a successful leader.
Yes, Jesus preached to the masses. But he also ministered to the individual. Look at the woman caught in adultery. Jesus waited until he crowd was gone and only she remained. It was then that he spoke truth and forgiveness to her thirsty soul.
There are seasons of connecting with the masses, of leading many students. But there are also seasons of connecting with one. Sometimes He needs to strip away the comfortable chaos of large numbers so we can see the student He wants us to reach.
It’s such a simple message, but it’s shifted the way I look at ministry and leadership. If Jesus saw reaching one as greatly valuable, if He declares each single person as precious, who am I to disregard the importance of reaching one?
My prayer is that your heart is encouraged. Whether you’re reaching one student or fifty, trust that if you’re living in surrender, He is using your faithfulness to bring people into His kingdom.
Take a deep breath, lay your stress at His feet, and do it for the one.