As a Pastor, it can become easy to desire life change and spiritual growth in the lives of the people you minister too, but sometimes struggling with spiritual growth in your personal life. It is a difficult place to be, and there are certainly joys as well as pains of spiritual growth.
“As youth pastors, it’s easy to get caught up in constantly pouring out into the lives our students that we may forget to take care of ourselves. Afterall, their development is directly affected by our own. It’s extremely important to take the time to grow in our own spiritual walks every day.
We knew how difficult it can be sometimes, so we asked some of our favorite youth pastors to share how they overcome obstacles when it comes to spiritual growth. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Have you ever felt like you hit a plateau in your walk with the Lord or in your ability to lead?
BLAKE (Student Pastor and blogger at blakeappleby.org): There have been many seasons of spiritual deprivation in my life, which are usually a byproduct of a fractured view of who God is. It’s in these dry and needy areas of life that my ability to lead is hindered. If I’m going to lead well, I must be growing spiritually. This growth comes by grace and it is God alone who provides this strength. However, when I’m foolish enough to try to lead on my own strength, I’m prone to failure.
JENNIFER (youth pastor and blogger at Blessed Family of Flowers): There may have been bouts of time where I didn’t feel the Lord’s presence or that I was growing full steam ahead, but I know there was never a specific time where I actually stopped growing in my faith. At times, it may have been slow going but I believe that God had a plan and His timing was always perfect.
I do believe there are different levels of Christian growth and maturity that occur before we are fully formed into who He needs us to be. When I was a child, my grandparents influenced me; they planted the seeds of Christianity within me. It wasn’t until I was an adult that those seeds began to grow. That doesn’t mean I was stalled in my Christian growth – He had a plan and a time for me to blossom into who I am today.
There have been dark times when I was completely shattered and broken into a million tiny pieces. I didn’t know how I would get through those times, but I strongly felt God’s presence. Looking back, I know I wouldn’t have gotten through it without His strength. I don’t feel that same level of presence now but it’s not because He isn’t there, it’s because I have learned to put my trust in Him and believe He has a plan no matter what. Because of my experiences and influences from Him, I’m able to lead others into the Christian walk, faith, and relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
JOSH (youth pastor, speaker, and blogger at joshhevans.wordpress.com: I certainly have! I have learned that in ministry, it’s a difficult place to grow. For me, sometimes I find myself working on the ministry, and doing it for the sake of a job rather than for Jesus! When you start having this mindset, you have stopped growing.
HOLLY (pastor’s wife and blogger at Simply Holly): There have been times where I’ve felt like I had nothing else to give to the students we were leading. I would read God’s word and yet I would be numb. I loved student ministry and at the same time it was sucking the life out of both me and my marriage. I remember getting to that place where leading in ministry was nothing more than a job and following God was simply out of duty. Early on we had no type of leadership or mentoring in our lives and that played a huge part ofburnout because we were pouring out 100% of the time and no one was pouring back into us. We were both young and didn’t understand boundaries and that keeping rest a part of our lives both individually and as a couple was an important key to our growth. It was truly a desert moment in our ministry.
CARY (from his blog caryschmidt.com): Yes, yes, yes! I think this is a part of spiritual opposition. The enemy is the accuser of the brethren, and he constantly tries to discourage us! If we give into these discouraging moments, we lose a lot of bigger battles. If we endure them, God will always renew our strength and breath new life into our hearts. For me, the only way through these times was to patiently walk with the Lord and wait on Him. (Isaiah 40:31)”