Blog Six Steps to Make it the Best Year Ever! by Amanda Montoya A new school year means big plans. As youth ministers, we are in the midst of planning Life Teen, Confirmation, and Edge kick-offs, doing Core training, and inviting teens to be a part of the ministry family. In the middle of the back to school chaos, it’s important to reflect on how you can make this the best year ever. Here are six steps that have helped me keep ministry Eucharistic-centered and Holy Spirit-driven. STEP ONE: Pray In ministry, I’ve learned that when I think I can do it all on my own, I fail MISERABLY! When the Youth Minister and Core are rooted in prayer, ministry just works. Each morning when you get to your office catch a few minutes in prayer, offering your work and your day to the Lord. When things start to feel overwhelming, prayer more. Strive to attend Mass or have a holy half hour (or hour) every day. In the midst of praying for the ministry, don’t forget to take the time to pray for yourself and listen to God. STEP TWO: Be Relational Relational Ministry is a HUGE part of Youth Ministry. I heard it said that our role as youth ministers is to get teens to trust us, so we lead them to Christ to entrust their life to Him. If we don’t gain their trust, they will never listen to what we say about the Lord and the truths of the Catholic faith. But if we forget that our goal is to lead them to Christ, our ministry is worthless. I promise you, teenagers want to be seen and known. Each week make it a point to call, text, or send a note to a different teen. Take time to visit teens at work, lunch time school visits, or sporting events. Take a few moments to check in with them about the things happening in their life, then make a note to yourself to follow up with them at a later date. STEP THREE: Choose Something for Yourself In my first year of ministry, a very dear friend of mine (who also happens to be an incredible priest in my Diocese) told me to choose one thing a month and do it for me. He said to make sure it was a priority and enjoy that time because so much of my life would be serving others. I chose to get my nails done, so once a month I head down to the salon and enjoy the hour I spend doing something nice for myself. I’ve known ministers who go hiking, have a desert day in prayer, or meet with their spiritual director. Remember it’s important to do one thing for yourself every month and don’t push it off when things get busy. STEP FOUR: Ask for Help Like I said in Step One, I often find myself trapped in the thought that I can do everything by myself. I presume I never need ideas from other people, or the support surrounding me doesn’t care if I’m drowning. Well, I’ve learned that when I think like this I AM WRONG! When I refuse to ask for help, I just sit there overwhelmed and on the brink of tears. When I finally decide to reach out to a friend in ministry they always have great advice (usually it’s telling me to spend more time in prayer). Reach out to someone in your parish, a friend not in ministry, your Diocese, the Life Teen Staff, or your Area Contact. I promise you by reaching out to someone you will feel less overwhelmed, and it can never hurt to have a bunch of extra people praying for and supporting you! STEP FIVE: Trust in the Lord So often in ministry, we focus on our plan and our vision that we forget to trust that God has incredible plans for us. When we have a night, and three teens show up it is easy to feel defeated. Take heart; God intended for those particular teens to be at that ministry event. He has something special in store for them and the Core Team. Trust He is working in each moment and ask Him to use you as His instrument to love teenagers and walk with them in various moments of their lives. STEP SIX: Have Fun We seriously have one of the coolest jobs around. We get paid to hang serve teenagers and support them as they discover how much God loves them. ENJOY IT! Laugh in the midst of the disorder and messiness of everyday life. St. Padre Pio said it well when he encouraged us to “serve the Lord with laughter.” Ministry is messy, exhausting, and overwhelming. It is also exciting, joyful, and beautiful. As youth ministers and Core Members, we are entrusted with leading souls to heaven. That is a big task, but also a very cool one. Use these six steps in your ministry this year to make this the best year ever and lead more teenagers closer to Christ!!