Just the other day I blew a tire going 80 mph on the highway. One too many potholes I guess. I pulled over to the side of the busy highway, cracked open my Volkswagen driver's manual and read up on how to change a tire German style. Thirty minutes later I was back on the road to my destination, a little dirtier but with a renewed sense of confidence that the metric system and European engineering couldn't keep me from figuring out how to change a stinkin' tire!
I will not be outsmarted by the Germans (and their confusing manuals) and I will not be outdone by a pothole.
Youth ministry has potholes too. Sometimes the result is a flat tire, a problem that parks us to the side of the road and forces us to fix it if we want to get where we are going. For some these potholes are apathetic teenagers who shoot "rolling eyes and heavy sighs" our way when we try to make a spiritual point. For others it is a problem with the pastor or the leadership at their church that has to be taken care of before you can move on. These potholes could be personal struggles of self-worth, flailing relationships or secret sin smoldering down deep inside.
Paul hit potholes in ministry too…to say the least. Check out his list of "car problems" on his ministry journey:
"I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?" 2 Corinthians 11:23-29
Lions and tigers and potholes, oh my! If you and I were to hit Paul's kind of potholes we would simply call it pulling a Thelma and Louise over a cliff!
But what was Paul response to his "potholes" in ministry?
"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Paul prayed for deliverance from these potholes. When that didn't work he received God's grace to, not just endure them, but to embrace them. Why? Because he realized the power of potholes made him ultra-dependent on God and when he was ultra-dependent on God he was invincible to sin, Satan and German engineering.
What does this have to do with you and your ministry? Well we all hit potholes in ministry and we need to learn how to embrace them and the faith they can produce in our hearts if we look to Christ during these knuckle-busting times in ministry.
If you have a flat in your youth ministry come to the The Ultimate Road Trip seminar nearest you. It will not only help to transform your youth ministry but you'll have a great time connecting with other pot-hole hardened youth leaders who are serious about getting their teenagers to a spiritual destination of transformation!