The things you don't have time for

     Today, after being knocked down and out for 24 hours with the flu, I managed, a little incoherently to make my way to a local Youth Worker Network meeting. It has been on my calendar for weeks. We had planned a little one day (more like 1/2 day) mini reflective retreat. A local pastor...a well know bald guy who formerly ran a youth ministry publishing house in the not too distant past, graciously opened his beautiful home to a dozen youth workers. Seriously, how cool it must be to work for a Pastor who has this in his bathroom!
Can I have one of these for my bathroom? 

   One of the overwhelming feelings I had going into the day was guilt. Guilt that I wasn't in the office after taking a sick day yesterday. Guilt that I was paying a babysitter so I can have a retreat day among youth worker friends, and not at the office helping stuff a 1,000 piece youth ministry mailer. Guilt about 4 upcoming work Christmas parties meaning more babysitting $$ and LOTS of time away from little ones after long days away from them already. The whole working mom guilt thing. You feel guilty when you are working, and more if you are not. Guilt about the vomit encrusted laundry that I ran through the wash and then left sitting in the washer since Tuesday. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.   
My laundry getting re-washed after sitting in the washer for 3 days

      At the mini retreat we kicked our shoes off (well I didn't cuz I was wearing Toms and they kinda make my feet stink), nestled into comfy chairs with coffee in hand and relaxed among the only people on the planet who get us. Other youth workers. The only people in existence who can understand what I face day to day as a youth worker, are other youth workers. The only people I can be real with and share my ministry challenges, joys, and pet peeves. When we first got started, we were asked first off what we were bringing into the day.  Balancing family and ministry, pressure, guilt, and overloaded schedules seemed to be a common theme.  Lots going on in all of our very full lives, yet we all carved out time to be where it seemed illogical to be...a reflective retreat with youth worker friends in the midst of the busy holiday season.

     Within the next couple of hours we were encouraged to grab some bubbles and blow them. Someone read us a Bible story, and naps and coloring were encouraged. Preschool for youth pastors. Was awesome. I highly encourage it. Did I have time for this? Nope, I don't think a single person  in the room had time for it either. But at the end of the day, all we could say was that it was WELL WORTH IT! I left my guilt there and it floated away on a bubble (had to be there...it wasn't that weird, really!). I even enjoyed a large table filled with my favorite things...some scrapbook paper, a hot cup of coffee, and glue sticks!  I made this...a reminder to slow down and remember that in silence and breathing space with God is where life lives. A great way to begin the Advent season.
Collage I made at the 1 Day Reflective Retreat with my Youth Worker Friends 
      It's the things you don't have time for that sometimes mean the most. Tracking with youth worker friends on blogs, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook is fun and all, but it really is the intentional flesh and blood time together that makes the largest measurable impact. So clear your calendar and plug into a local network. You need them and they need you. Youth worker jobs can come and go in an instant. You never know when things might unexpectedly change. Sometimes youth worker's lose their job for serious reasons, and this group of people might have helped to avoid that. See HERE for what I mean. It's the relationships with these other youth ministry friends in your life that stand the test of time or kick you in the butt when needed.  A few of these people I've known since college and have stayed the course with them in different ministry settings.

    Oh and after getting back to the office, a few of my Christmas party woes worked themselves out. I still have a lot to attend, but the babysitting got much more manageable. Thank you Jesus for that!

Here is how to find a local network of youth workers, look at NNYM website for a network near you. You can also look at Youth Specialties.

Do you make the time to network with other youth workers in your area? How has that blessed your life? 


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