Preparing for your group’s trip to camp is time consuming and can be stressful at times so it is important to try to get this done as soon as you can before camp. This is really helpful when it comes to prepping for camp for the youth leader themselves. This means taking time yourself to get rest, mentally and spiritually preparing for the trip. With all of the things that leaders need to plan beforehand in order for their trip to actually work (here’s a checklist that can help) and be successful can distract them from their spiritual health (and thus from the goal of your camp). Being spiritually in tune with God is incredibly important before something as demanding as this.
Put God First
Put your relationship with Jesus first before any ministry, before anything else. The more that we put Jesus first in our lives, the more we are able to exude Christ in everything else that we do. Putting Jesus first means loving Him more which leads to loving the people around us more with our actions, our words, and our hearts. It’s not about focusing on the ministry, but on the minister, Jesus Christ. He is the reason we doing anything, the reason we are anything and its so easy to get busy with doing His work for others and not focusing on the one we are doing it for.The point of being a youth leader is encouraging your kids, leading them, and showing the importance of spending everyday with Him. This requires you spending everyday with Him as well. We, as leaders, need to lead by example. Time alone with God is necessary to keep going and sometimes this means getting away from things in order to just be with Him. Not spending time in prayer and the Word means that you aren’t able to give your best to your ministry, your kids, and more importantly to God.
One of the biggest issues that people in ministry can face is becoming burnt out. It’s easy to be excited and about something when you first get going, but how do you keep that going? The answer is always going to God, but also its good to have someone who you can go to that is spiritually in tune with God. These people are a mentor or accountability parter that can keep you on track and be there to offer advice when issues or exhaustion arise. It could be anyone like pastor, someone who leads by example, or a leader that is more experienced than you are. Hebrews 10:24, shows it a necessity to have somebody who can help give new perspective, inspire you to keep on going, pray for you, and love you like Christ does. If you constantly pour into the lives of your youth and don’t have anyone pouring into you, you become empty over time. If you aren’t actively giving yourself the alone time with God so that you can fill up your spiritual cup, how can you have it overflow. Instead you will just be left dry without a drop to share.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
Working to Rest
Finding true and actual rest takes work. We like to call it working to rest. You have to diligently work to make sure you have that time to be at rest, to be in prayer, and to refuel with God. Having that rest will enable you to be present and be fully there. This requires leaving things undone and saying no. This may sound weird at a first glance, but let me explain what I mean.
– Leaving things undone:
So many of us in general believe to a certain extent that if we don’t give our all, our 100 percent all day long every day, that we don’t deserve the role we have because we aren’t putting enough into it. This is especially true for youth leaders. If youth leaders don’t return every email, every call, don’t make every meeting, and don’t respond to all requests, that they are doing a poor job of doing what they are supposed to. Not continuously making themselves available every single day or don’t fully apply themselves, again makes youth leaders to some degree feel lacking in their responsibility as a leader. This seems even more relevant when there has been a type of crisis. It’s so easy to forget that crises always do and always will arise no matter how small or big they are. The truth, however, is that they can’t always be living in a manner of crisis. This is not only applicable when you are “on duty” as a leader, but also when you aren’t technically “on duty” because leading youth flows in your personal lives. Yes, it is important to be there for people and show the love the Christ shows us, but your help isn’t always needed right away.
– Saying No:
Every time you say yes that means you have less time to your family, your friends, and your God. Every yes that is worth your time and pursuit takes time, but that means saying no to other things. Block out a time to rest and be specific during that time what is most important to you in order to receive that rest. If you need time to rest alone, this will mean getting away from others and putting time spent with others aside. Saying no to things will help you to keep boundaries up so you do get that necessary solitude with God. The array of to do lists, phone calls, meetings, other people’s needs, and more will still be there ready to accomplish when you have had that time of rest enabling yourself to do a better job instead of spreading yourself too thin.
Taking the time that is necessary for any person to be rested up is of the utmost importance for youth leaders. You haven’t fallen short as a leader, but if you don’t give yourself time as well, your lack of rest and time with the Lord will lead to falling short of how an effective leader can be for their youth, being fully there. This is something that needs to be incorporated into your lives and having this time to refuel is extra important prior to coming to youth camp because of how much more demanding the time there is. A well rested leader is the best kind of leader. So take that time and get ready for camp!
Part of the Preparing for Camp Series