Not every day is an easy day in student ministries. But that’s not news to you; anyone two months in to a good internship can tell you that. Nope, some days are the “less than good” type. And today was one of those days.
Recently, I had a day that felt more like a day and a half. It was a pretty difficult day.
It occurred to me that when the settings of our difficult days are different, the manner in which we process them is different, too. Often we encounter these difficult days and it’s just Jesus and us. Other times there’s a spouse or parent to walk with us. But in my case, I had the “opportunity” to walk through this difficulty with my ministry team.
Moving through a difficult day with a team opened my eyes to just how different this context is. Recently, the team that I’m a part of has been faced with a couple of rocky days: emergencies with students, families, and each other . . . all things that are normal in any church environment.
However, this most recent challenge was different in that the whole team was in the office when it happened. We all dealt with the emotion of the situation at the same time.
Once I had a chance to look back on it, I realized there were some powerful truths to take away from going through rough times with a team. Here’s what I gathered:
It’s good to have a team that has your back.
Maybe your team is made up of staff in your department, or maybe it’s your larger church staff working as a team. Maybe your team is made up of elders and veteran volunteers. isthis site down (Or maybe your team is you and your spouse.) Any of these options is still a team. And walking through trying times with others makes all the difference. If you don’t have a team, find one!
Moments of honesty are healthy.
You need to have moments where you can speak freely with your team. Don’t let “openness” about a situation slip into gossip. But as a team, in confidentiality and the right motivations, you should be able to speak your mind and work through the challenges.
It’s good to laugh together.
Here’s a not-so-fun fact: there will be more bad days. Not just one more, or ten more, but MANY. So if you take every shot personally, if you let it be the issue on every team members’ mind, you’re not really helping them process and move forward. After our tough day, I sent a funny video around to everyone on our team in hopes that they would laugh. It worked. Laugh when you can. Look for the bright side. Cut the tension. We all need to have that now and then, especially after a bad day.
It’s necessary to take time to process.
When tough things happen, it’s easy to be flustered and shocked, especially if it really is unexpected. Every situation is different, but guess what: if you have some idea of what to do in a given situation, you at least have a starting point or a lead staffer that can delegate what needs to be done. This prior planning is usually a process of actually taking time to process through tough times. Once you see how you handled adversity, you can carry forward the positive and address the negative. But it all happens as a result of making time to process.
Have you ever worked through a challenging time as a team? What did you learn? What am I leaving out?
Share your tips and tricks for other youth workers like me to use for next time. Because if it’s one thing we know, there will be a “next time.”
Will you be ready?