Blog/CYM Blog

Arise and Shine! (John 15:1-8)

When do you find yourself praying? Is it in times of need? Times of distress? Is it as an obligation before a meeting or so you can look like you know what you are doing before a meeting?

How foundational is prayer to your life? Is it the very oxygen of all you do personally and professionally, or is it an afterthought?

Asking this many rhetorical questions represents a poor prose, so I’m going to stop. But I do need you to reflect on the role prayer plays in ministry – and how important that role is for you.

Look, I get that this is a cliché blog. I’m going to tell you how important prayer is. You know – I’ll say things like:

Pray more than you write for a Proclaim.

Pray with teenagers the moment they tell you they need prayer rather than waiting.

Make prayer about your relationship with Christ, and then pray for your ministry.

Schedule out time for prayer.

We all know it, but the truth is we are sometimes far from connected the way we should be. This week’s Gospel should startle us, then. It presents the reality of the Christian that is not connected to Christ, our Vine.

That Christian slowly withers and dies.

We give a lot as youth ministers. We pour out our hearts and work long hours. We give and give, and we don’t expect anything back. We face droughts in ministry, but we still give.

Then we wonder why the end of the year rolls around, and we are exhausted and burned out. It probably began with a choice to postpone prayer.

Because the retreat week was too busy.

And that Life Night needed to get written.

Those e-mails needed responses.

In the midst of all that craziness, our knees never hit the ground except for perhaps a prayer that we make our deadlines or that we have enough Core Members show up to the Life Night.

Simply put – if we aren’t connected to Jesus Christ, the True Vine, then we aren’t connected to True Life. We are dying. End of story.

This past Sunday, numerous photos from year-end Life Nights were posted. In them, I saw smiling teens and burned out youth ministers. I saw people aching for a vacation. And youth ministers, you deserve a vacation.

Fill it with prayer. Do something you love, and pray. Spend time with your family, and pray. Sleep in later then you probably already do (hey! I’m not poking fun – you all work late). But make Christ the center. Reconnect with him, because he loves you. He wants you for you – not for the fruit you bear. That fruit belongs to him, anyway. He just wants you for you.

Let him love you this week. Pray just for the sake of praying. Fall in love again, not for what Jesus will do for your ministry, but for the life he brings and the desire he has for you


Image via Flickr, CC 2.0, Logo added 

About the Author

Joel Stepanek

I spent most of my 8th grade year in detention because there wasn’t a dare I wouldn’t accept. But in high school, my youth minister dared me to follow Christ and I haven’t looked back. I love all things Wisconsin, especially the Green Bay Packers. I can probably eat more cheese than you. (Please don’t dare me to prove it.) Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @LT_Jstepanek.

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