As a woman in youth ministry, sometimes it can seem like only dudes get cool speaking gigs. Imagine how excited I was when I opened up my laptop to find an email from a BIG-freakin-deal student ministry organization. They emailed to let me know that I, along with a few others would be speaking for them and to look over the attached presentation slides and schedule. Because I had done some work for them before, getting that email wasn’t totally out of the blue. I was used to last minute asks.
Speaking at one of their events wasn’t something I had been asked to do yet. I had no chill. The call-your-mom-over-the-top excited lack of chill. I texted my closest friends. Then it hit me for a second. Wait. This just seemed a little too good to be true. I deleted the celebratory text and emoji’s I was about to send a youth pastor friend. I had a sinking feeling this email might have been a mistake.
And it was. Come to find out. The email sent to me was meant for a different person with my first name. How many people have my name? Apparently, at least one other person.
And in the course of 35 minutes, the big deal gig, wasn’t.
3 things to remember when the big gig doesn’t happen…
1. First, repeat after me. Being a big deal isn’t a big deal.
As a 3 on the Enneagram I struggle with a false belief that I need to succeed to be loved. (BTW I highly recommend reading up on your Enneagram number). Tempted to equate speaking gigs or book deals as a sign of ministry “success.”
2. Remember the real deal
The real deal everywhere = people. The people we lead and serve every week in the context of actually being in youth ministry. No one is a big deal just because they talk or write about youth ministry to strangers. Jesus thought people were a big deal too. The worth dying for kind of big deal.
3. Don’t go fishing.
Last year, when I didn’t land an invite to speak at the Youth Specialties NYWC (I was lucky to speak at it a few times in the past), I started fishing for other opportunities. Fueled by insecurity and a need to prove that I still mattered, I landed a yes to speak at a different youth worker conference. And then it happened. I had my “From Now On” (cue Hugh Jackman) moment. A Holy Spirit nudge in the form of Wolverine to focus on my family and ministry. A reminder not to get caught up in the lure of platform building. I emailed the organizers and apologetically got myself out of it.
You don’t need to “fish” for opportunities. When Jesus is the master of your boat, your career, your calling…you pull in the net and wait for further instructions. You might be surprised at what you pull in when you do.
During this season of more Kingdom advancing and less self promoting, In December of 2018, I let my www.womeninyouthministry.com domain name expire. It wasn’t intentional. It just happened because I don’t know, I was busy making dinner, reloading my kid’s overdrawn school lunch accounts and trying to figure out what game to play at youth group on Sunday night. Did I mention it was December?
Do you know what? By letting go, even if accidentally, this womeninyouthministry.com thing that I couldn’t keep up with became more. It became more for The Kingdom. Together. Not alone. Women stacking hands and contributing as we follow Jesus and support one another. Doing more together than I could have ever imagined by myself.
Here is to more womeninyouthministry.com
Here is to open hands.
Here is to realizing you are enough with or without the gig
“That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!” 1Peter 4:10 MSG
ABOUT GINA: Gina, the author of the book, A Woman in Youth Ministry, has been hanging out with middle schoolers since the year Mulan hit the movie theaters. She lives with her 3 kids and Star Wars loving husband in Michigan. She can be found decoding Taylor Swift Lyrics or shooting foam finger rockets at her children. She shares about being a female in youth ministry over at https://www.awomaninym.com/