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The Hardest Part of Youth Ministry: Silence

Youth ministry by nature is usually loud. As a youth ministry leader you are most likely looking for exciting things to do for and with the youth. That is a great approach, especially for those non-Christians or outside the core group of youth. In addition, many of us as leaders enjoy fun and activity—nothing wrong with that at all.

Not only are many youth ministries loud and active for good reasons. We as leaders may be that way as well. This is part of the reason why we are in this ministry. However, I know some great introverted and quieter youth workers as well.

Apart from the noise and busyness of ministry there is a loud cry being sounded. This call however is from God. His voice through His Word proclaims the need for silence. This does not mean that we have quiet youth groups. But what God is seeking is a group of leaders who are willing to set aside their overly busy lives and ministries so that they can hear from God.

Do you find that as hard to do as I do? We are people called to make a difference, called to go and make disciples. We are people who may at times say, “I do not have time to be silent. The world needs my ministry and I need to get about doing it. God called me, I am going to make a huge impact therefore I must be constantly in motion and busy.”

STOP!!!

God is interested in people of impact, but He is most interested in people who are willing to be quiet and listen to His regular directions and encouragements. From that place of clarity, then and only they are you really ready to loudly go out for His sake and His missions.

Consider with me the 62nd chapter of the Book of Psalms. Twice in this chapter David said, “My soul waits in silence for God only…”. I am not sure about you, but being silent is not easy for me. I enjoy a good book and some quiet space as much as anyone. But even reading is really not being in silence before God. In fact, I know people who love to be alone studying His Word, but even studying His Word for self or for teaching others is not necessarily being in silence. In fact, it is possible to be seeking God, but not really seeking to hear from God.

Silence is a great discipline. Our world is full of people who have opinions and voices. Whether it is in the news, on FaceBook or Twitter or in person, so many people desire to speak but few are disciplined enough to be silent.

Consider these sayings from a renowned pastor in church history, Charles Spurgeon. Though spoken between 1861 and 1892 these words are still deep and true insights for us today.

  • “To wait upon God, and for God, is the habitual position of faith; to wait on Him truly is sincerity; to wait on Him only is spiritual chastity.”
  • “The proverb that speech is silver, but silence is gold is more true in this case.”
  • “No eloquence in the world is half so full of meaning as the patient silence of a child of God.”
  • “Faith has learned the footsteps of coming salvation because she has learned to be silent.”
  • “Be still silent, O my soul! Submit yourself [soul] completely, trust immovably and wait patiently.”

Profound words like the above only come from those who themselves have learned to be silent and listen to the Lord’s Words.

The challenge for most is not the desire for silence but the need to position yourself for silence. You may have even tried to be silent before but found that even in a remote scenic location with calm all around your head is still full of thoughts and constantly running.

I am with you in this area. That is why I titled this article, “The Hardest Part of Youth Ministry: Silence”. We have trained our minds to run, to plan, to think, to worry, to ponder, etc… But we have not usually been able to be silent.

Let me say that I am not speaking of a total “emptying of your mind”. That is dangerous and a prescription offered in many religions and cultures. Actually silence is seeking to position your heart and mind before the Lord to set things and thoughts aside, not for the sake of total silence, but to make room for Him to speak and be heard clearly.

How are you doing at being silent?

In facing these difficulties I have come to implement few new disciplines that help me. I find that when I sit to have “quiet time” my head runs full with actions to take and plans to think about or implement. I found that silence for me requires writing/journaling. Once I have written my thoughts and quieted my heart then my soul is in a position to hear.

In addition, I often then need to be focused on something, so reading the Word is a way to be quiet and silent before the Lord and allow Him alone to speak (spiritual chastity).

Another thing that helps me is what is called a breath prayer. A breath prayer is a short whisper prayer of just a few words or less that we say over and over to the Lord. It is a focusing thought. Some use just the word “Jesus”, over and over. Recently I have been using the words, “be still”. Taken to a next step some use a word or words as they breath in and another word or two as they breath out. For me adding the words “pour out” as I exhale and then say or whisper “be silent” as I inhale, helps me to center on Christ Himself and set other things aside.

The 62nd Psalm goes on in verse 8b to say, “Pour out your heart before Him”. I have been meditating on both of these thoughts: being silent and then pouring out my heart. Only when we are silent and have listened to the Lord are we really in a right place to openly and transparently pour out our heart to Him.

You will need to try these things and also find another mature believer to walk with you in this endeavor.

You are called to lead youth. A leader has to move ahead of the pack of the others and be sure they are hearing from the Lord. Hearing requires listening, not running. To lead you must listen. You need this not only for your ministry but also for your whole life. You want to know that God is guiding, that God is moving you this way or that. This is only possible as you listen to Him and confirm this through His Word and others.

Not only do we need to be silent, but we have to be able to set the example for the youth around us. If you think your generation is loud and full of noise I would almost definitely promise that things will not get quiet or any slower in the generations to come. They will most probably speed up and quit probably at an exponential fast paced level. Lets be honest, people like noise because it covers up things as well. Many people do not want to be silent, because then they have to face their problems or their problematic decisions. Consider that if you find it hard to be quiet and silent.

I want to be sure that I am being led by the Lord. This requires answering the Lord’s call for us to enter into times of silence. He cries out for us to be silent, because He loves us extravagantly and desires to whisper in our quiet ears just how much he deeply loves us and then to share His plans with us and for us.

Can you hear Him?

Chris Davis

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