Celebrating the Little Victories
“Progression, not perfection!”
I have heard this phrase several times in my life: In books that I’ve read, on Instagram and at cheer camp in high school. You would think that after hearing a saying so many times I would become numb to it. However, it is actually one that I remind myself of constantly--especially when it comes to youth ministry.
Remembering that progression is the goal, not necessarily perfection, reminds me to be mindful of the little victories that happen among my students. Let me give you an example:
I had a middle schooler that used to bring me a tremendous amount of trouble. He whined, he complained, and he was disruptive. (I'm pretty sure that middle schooler exists in every youth group.) With this particular student, if you tried to discipline him, he would run off. He would literally run away and there were several times I had to go chase after him.
Yet, time moved forward and after much prayer, this middle schooler adjusted and became less of a problem. He became one of our students that could easily be seen as a leader among the rest of our group. Imagine my shock, though, when on a Wednesday night I had to reprimand him several times for being disrespectful. I went home that night so upset recalling how rude he was. That was until I remembered that little phrase that I had heard for so many years.
"Progression, not perfection."
Maybe I had to discipline this student multiple times, but not one time did he run away like he used to. Praise Jesus! That was progress! And it was cause for celebration. Focusing on that little victory allowed me to keep my eyes on the work that God was doing, as well as remain hopeful for what was to come.
I'm always looking for a reason to celebrate, so let me give you a few more examples:
I was stressing about the fact that our check-in system wasn’t running as smoothly as I would have liked. Then I thought about how long we had gone without a check-in system. Holla! Maybe our system had a few glitches, but at least we had a system!
A recent parent meeting where only five parents showed up had me a bit discouraged. That was until I remembered that my first parent meeting consisted of just two parents. Somebody pull out the party hats! Adding three more parents to the meeting was progression, and a definite small victory worth celebrating.
I was wondering if a group of boys in my youth group were paying attention to a lesson I was giving about Jesus. I was doubtful until the moment I heard one of those boys explaining what Jesus did on the Cross to another student. Hashtag progression! Time to party!
If there is progress in your ministry, even the smallest amount, it is worth celebrating. It is an indication that the Lord is moving! While it’s not necessarily bad to look at the things going wrong in your youth group (as it helps to spot areas for improvement) don’t make that your constant focus. Take time to find some victories, too!
Take a moment to think about your ministry. Sure, you’ve probably got some things that you wish were different. Your ministry isn’t perfect and it never will be. But God has allowed you to progress in so many ways—I’m sure of it. Throw some confetti, whip up some cupcakes, and start celebrating those little victories.
"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!" -Psalm 107:1 (ESV)