Dealing With Failure In Ministry

Lately, I’ve been engrossed with the reality that in the gospel, your story matters. Like, part of what makes the gospel of Jesus Christ so beautiful and captivating is that it meets you right where you are in your story.

Wounded by the absence of your dad? The gospel is where you find the fullness of Father.

Ashamed by your past (and current) mistakes? The gospel is where you experience grace and new identity.

Tired of wandering aimlessly through life? The gospel is where you discover purpose and passion.

Like no matter what has happened in our stories, God meets us where we are to heal and restore us. In the context of the Kingdom, there is space and grace for our personal stories.

My personal story is that for most of my life, I’ve been afraid of failure. Deeply, deeply fearful of failure. And it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve finally allowed the Holy Spirit to meet me in those fearful places of my heart and dig out the lies and replace them with the truth.

When we started this blog, my plan was for G Shades to release one blog post/month for…like…years! Decades! But a little more than half a year after the initial post, we’ve hit a snag in the road.

The lead writer for our blog, Kristy Fry, has had to step away for a season because life is insane in her world right now. And I’m not sure if I have it in me to create qualitative monthly blog posts while she’s out! Between homeschooling our children (alongside my amazing wife, Anna), doing youth ministry full time, and producing G Shades Season 4, I don’t know if what I have leftover is enough! And as I’m writing this, I can feel that old, familiar prickle of the fear of failure creep up inside me.

We’ve all probably had moments like this in youth ministry, haven’t we? After you’ve been the only one to show up to your Wednesday night youth group for the 3rd week in a row. After your best and most reliable volunteer gets a new job opportunity and moves away. After your parent survey had only one or two responses AGAIN!

I know this is the part where I’m supposed to tell you to keep pushing and keep going, but can I actually call an audible and remind the both of us that the gospel meets us where we are in our story? That where we are insufficient, God is fully able to fill in the gaps?

Taking a break or pivoting isn’t failure, it’s flexibility and faith.

You don’t have to burn yourself out for the sake of the Kingdom. God’s Kingdom is going to be fine. Trust that. Believe that. And have enough faith that Jesus will continue His work of redemption and reconciliation throughout the world to take a break or pivot from things if you feel the need to.

So maybe you should persevere and keep hosting Wednesday nights, but maybe instead, at least for a little while, you should just use your Wednesday evenings to text or write students asking about their world.

Maybe you should take on 100% of that key volunteer’s responsibilities, or maybe instead, at least for a little while, you should just let some of that stuff go and hand whatever you can off to students.

Maybe you should keep banging your head against the wall with the parent surveys, or maybe instead, at least for a little while, you should just pray for casual opportunities here and there to get a little feedback from parents as you run into them at the grocery store, football games, and church services.

And maybe I should persevere and continue writing this blog for youth workers while Kristy is away, or maybe instead, at least for a little while, I should just let it go and trust that both the youth ministry community and the G Shades brand are going to be fine while I focus my attention on other things in life. I genuinely don’t know right now. We’ll see!

But, regardless of whether this blog continues or takes a break, I want you to hear me when I say this again:

In the context of the Kingdom, there is space and grace for our personal stories.

So, sure, let’s be people of perseverance. But let’s also be people who are open to flexibility because of our faith in who Jesus is and His desire to see His Kingdom come.


Mike Haynes is a full-time youth pastor and the creator of G Shades Youth Ministry Curriculum. Feel free to reach out to Mike anytime over email at mike@gshades.org
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