Career vs. Calling: Making It Clear

We just wrapped up our Roundtable Tuesday and had a great discussion on Youth Ministry and the differences between Career and Calling. I wanted to follow up and write a little more about what I believe.


I truly believe that all Christ-followers are called into ministry. When you follow Christ he calls you to minister to the people around you, starting with your family, your work, your school, your city, your state, then to the nations! We see this in Matthew 28:18-20:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

God calls us all to minister once we follow Christ; I think through prayer and growth in your relationship with Jesus He gives you a more specific calling or a heart for a certain group of people. For some that calling/heart is for teens, children, adults, a different nation, and so forth.

As for making your calling a career, that is between you and God. Benjamin Graham Read said it best the other day at the Roundtable that (and I paraphrase),

“Some youth pastors would make great volunteers in a Youth Ministry, but the things a Youth Pastor is called to do require more commitment and sacrifice than they are willing to make. ” (Roundtable #16)


I believe that if your calling is to be translated vocationally in a church somewhere, that God will open those doors for you and give you the tools to do so.  Yet, ultimately, I believe that God has called you to minister to a certain group, and that no matter what you do for your “career,” you should use your “calling” to impact the group you are called to minister to where you are!

At the Roundtable, I stated, “If God lead me to some other job/career that took me out of youth ministry, I would still pour into the teens wherever I was.”

Just serve where you are, and follow God faithfully day to day and remember that “…I am with you always, to the end of age.” (Matthew 28:20)


What are your thoughts? Did this post help you? Leave us a comment below and let us know.

Take Care Of Your Body

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

New International Version (NIV)

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

I know Paul is talking about sexual purity and honoring God with your body that way, but I also believe that Paul is saying take care of your bodies in general! Our bodies are a temple, and the Holy Spirit dwells within us, and how should God use a body that can not stay fit and healthy? The healthier you are (physically and spiritually) the better you can do work for God. Here are some ways to stay healthy physically and keep the “temple” clean and in shape!

Get Rest:

I learned this one the hard way, but you cannot always keep going. As Youth Pastors or whatever your title is, we have responsibilities and activities that keep us from having the usual sleep time as others. You never know when you will have to get up in the middle of the night to help a family, or when you will only have 1 hour of sleep due to a lock-in. You cannot expect your body to stay healthy if you do not get sleep! As hard as it is, I try to make one day a week where I can just rest, sleep in late, and be a bum! I learned a few years ago, that when I push my self to total exhaustion, I just fall apart; I get sick, cranky, and my mind just does not want to focus! I end up having a terrible week or two because I am sick and cannot get things done till I recover. This ends up with me getting even further behind. It is best to just get the rest, even if you have to force it, then falling apart the week of a big event and not being at the top of your game!

Eat Clean:

Stop using the excuse of being a Youth Minister to eat junk food every day all day! Our bodies are not made to function of processed foods. Here is a good rule of thumb I use: If I could not catch it, kill it, and or pick it, do not eat it. Yes, I eat junk food, but I have limited it to once to twice a week. The other days I eat lean meats such as skinless chicken, fish, and occasionally lean red meat, add some healthy veggies (and do a veggie tales skit with your kids while cooking with them), and some fruit and you will feel better in no time! Take the challenge and do a Paleo diet for two weeks, and see how much better you feel and function! You will never want to go back to junk food! Here is one of my Favorite protein shakes: PB2 banana shake.


Seriously, pray! I think we forget that God made our bodies and He knows exactly what we need to function correctly. Ask God to give you guidance as you make decisions about your daily food choices and exercise routine. You need strength and most of the time I have to go to God and ask Him to give me the will power to do what I need to do to stay healthy!

What do you do to stay healthy through out the week? Have a suggestion? Did something we mentioned help you? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Staying Healthy at Youth Camp

 The past 5 months for me have been a journey to eating healthy and being healthier as a whole! I was at an all-time high in weight, weighing in at 260 lbs. I have made some little changes in my diet and exercise routine and wanted to share with you some practical ways of eating and staying healthy at Youth Camp.

Our youth ministry just returned from Global Youth Ministry camp and we had a blast, but it never fails…. the camp food is blah and high in fat and calories. So how do you do it? You have been working hard to get fit, or you just do not want to gain weight to your already hard-earned physique that God has blessed you with.

Here are some tips and a list of the things I did (and I actually maintained my body weight of 217 lbs while at camp eating their food!):

Count Calories.

I count calories and have always counted calories since I started my journey of being healthy. My number one tool for doing this is the app MyFitnessPal. They also have a website that lets you do everything the app does, it is just a little more time-consuming. On top of calories I also watch my carb and protein intake and this app keeps track of that as well as all of your nutritional values (sodium, vitamins, cal’s, water intake, potassium, etc…).  The last thing I do with this app is record my cardio, as it subtracts from your calorie intake and adjust everything automatically to tell you what you need to meet your goal nutritionally everyday.

Get Exercise.

Get some type of exercise in throughout the day. If the students are playing a game of ultimate-Frisbee, join in. You would be surprised at how many calories you will burn in 30 minutes of being moderately active when running around. I wore a heart rate monitor while doing any activities at camp; while playing a 30 minute game of ultimate-Frisbee I burned 325 calories (this is for a 24 year old, weighing in at 217 lbs). If you are lucky and the facilities have a weight room, then use them. On the other hand, if they do not have an exercise room then get creative. I found a playground the third day I was at camp and used the monkey bars to do pull-ups and chest bar dips. If none of the above are available then just go for a jog and or walk even if you have to go around a parking lot 20+ times.

Watch your carbs.

When you do eat, try to stay away from carbs that come from sugars and try to eat 70% protein and only 30% carbs. If you must have carbs avoid the following:

  • White Pasta
  • White Rice
  • White Bread
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Fruit Juices
  • Bagels
  • Donuts
  • Muffins
  • Sweets and Candies
  • Processed Breakfast Cereals

For a more in-depth look at carbs and what you can and should not eat go HERE. By the way, carbs that come from fiber are good to eat. They do not store in your fat storages as quickly as sugar carbs and are used for an all day energy.

Take your vitamins.

This step is optional. I use supplements every day. Supplements do not = steroids. Here is a list of supplements I take and why I take them.

  • Spark- This is an healthy alternative to energy drink and coffee. I use it when I wake up in replace of my coffee and I use it once again after lunch to give me all day focus and energy.
  • O2 Gold- This supplement actually helps your body use more of the oxygen that is present in your blood. I use it once a day whether I exercise or not. It helps my muscles from getting fatigued. It also helps keep me alert and supports the immune system.
  • Catalyst- Catalyst helps me retain muscle and reduce fat for a more toned and better defined look. This supplement gives you all the Basic Chain Amino Acids you need to support your body through out the day. It actually helps transport the fat from your fat storage to be used for energy.

What are your thoughts– is there something you do that helps you when you are at youth camps? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Giving Constructive Criticism

Confrontation.  It’s hard, it’s messy, but it’s needed.

So how do you give constructive criticism to someone in a way that isn’t rejected? I’m going to present a method to give it in a way that makes the other person feel like “Hey, I’m doing a good job, I just need to work on a few things” rather than “I’m a piece of crap and I need to go move back in with my mommy.”

It’s called the Feedback Sandwich.

It’s as simple as this: Begin with a praise.  Give the critique.  Then end with a praise.

But…be careful not to turn the feedback sandwich into a “You’re Awesome.  You suck. You’re Awesome.” There needs to be balance in what you say.

The format goes: “Name, praise; YET (never say but) critique. If this happens, that praise will be even more praise-y, because you are so praise-y.” (See? lots of praise!)

Here are some examples:

Have a volunteer who never tells you when they’re coming or not coming?  Joe, our teens really love you and get so excited when you are here; yet, you can be here so randomly that even I don’t know when you’re coming.  If you can give me a schedule or just let me know when you can’t be here, we can work together in harvesting your gifts so that we are more effective and can reach more kids and impact the Kingdom.

Have a student leader who is struggling with some sin?  Jane, you are a natural-born leader and your peers really look up to you; yet, they can see that you are struggling with this sin.  If you push through and don’t let it hold you back, you can be a even greater example of perseverance and strength to your friends.

Have a pastor who is micromanaging you?  James, I love that you are so invested in our ministry and that you’re not one of those pastors who sits and the sidelines and doesn’t care; yet, I feel like I want to be given a chance to do things more independently.  If I succeed, your validation of me will mean the world, plus it will give you a chance to focus on tasks that really need it.

Genius, huh?

Sometimes it can be hard to find something praise-worthy about that person.  One of the wonderful people in my life who disciple me recently told me, “Sometimes, even if we can’t stand a person, we need to focus on the good traits they have–traits that remind of us God’s traits.”  God is creative, loving, consistent, vocal, active, and countless more wonderful things. We are made in his image, and sometimes we need to remind each other of how we resemble God. What better compliment is that?

And remember, this isn’t fool-proof. There will be those people who reject critique in every single form and who don’t do well in confrontation. I think that’s when you need to go all Matthew 18 on them.  Good luck.

Now…go make me a sandwich.

Have you tried this?  What are some ways that you have effectively given criticism?

Making Youth Group Resources you can be proud of

If you’ve been putting out quality print media for your ministry, but you want to take it to the next level, this is for you. Printed materials that look great are awesome. Printed materials that look AND feel great are even better. Never underestimate the wow factor of a tactile experience when someone touches your card for the first time.

With this in mind, let’s look at two ways to “upgrade” your printed materials: METALLIC FOIL and SPOT GLOSS. Both add an extra punch to the look and feel of invite cards or whatever else you print.


Design this just like you would any other project. I’ve used Adobe Illustrator to set up a fairly basic design to use as the base here:

This is set up at business card size (3.5×2″) with a 1/8″ bleed on all sides. We’ve got a nice clean type layout, and just enough decoration in the background that it’s not plain and/or boring. Fonts used are Rosewood for the big type and Rockwell Condensed Bold for the smaller words. The diamond shapes next to “is” are pulled out of the letters in the Rosewood font.
Now, I wouldn’t mind this card just as is, but why not add some flash to it? It’s easier than you might think. I’d like to make the Rosewood font all silver foil. That’s “Jesus”, “way”, “truth”, and “life”. All we have to do is make a new layer called “FOIL”. I know, it’s clever. But it’s always a good idea to deliver clean, clearly labelled files to your printer.
We can go ahead and add a “SPOT GLOSS” layer as well and we’ll have a layers pallet that looks like this:

You can see the “ARTWORK”, “FOIL”, and “SPOT GLOSS” layers. Some printers may require a different file for each piece of the job, or the different layers might be enough; you’ll have to ask your printer what they prefer. Either way, you should start like this so everything will line up properly.
Now, select the 4 words we want in foil and CUT them (CMD/CTRL + X). Why cut and not copy? Because inevitably, the foil and the ink/printed parts will get ever-so-slightly off, and you don’t want white bits peeking out from behind your pretty foil.
Then, select the foil layer so it is highlighted (like in the above screenshot). In Illustrator, you can paste exactly where you cut/copied from by pressing CMD/CTRL + F instead of “… + V” like you would for normal paste function. So do that, and make sure everything is still aligned. While you still have everything in your foil layer selected, change the fill color to 100% K (pure black). [Note: some printers have different requirements on this, similar to layers or different files. 4Over likes 100% K in its own file, while Taste Of Ink prefers same file/different layer and 100% Magenta. Again, find out what specifics your printer has. This tutorial will put you on the right track and it will be an easy adjustment from here to whatever they want.]
Hide the other layers, and you should just have an image that looks like this:

This will tell the printer to print foil (since your layer is foil, and assuming you’ve ordered a foil product from them) where the black is.
Now, if we hide (the little eyeball icon next to the layer name) the FOIL layer, and show the ARTWORK layer, we’ll get this:

It looks funny, right? But that’s because the other parts will be printed in foil and we want them to be awesome all on their own.
Now, just to finish this off, let’s add spot gloss to the remaining white parts and make them really shine!
To do this, select everything that is showing that is white. That’s 4 bits of text and two shapes. COPY (CMD/CTRL + C), don’t CUT these ones. Spot gloss is clear, so if you remove this part from the base layer, you’ll have invisible text that is shiny (that is a really cool effect, but probably not the best for this design).
Paste-in-front (CMD/CTRL + F) on your SPOT GLOSS layer this time, and convert to 100% K. Should look like this (if you hide the ARTWORK layer):

Again, it looks weird, but this is telling the printer to just put gloss where the black is and leave everything else with a matte finish. The gloss will stand up off the card and feel as cool as it looks when you’re done!
That’s it. That’s how you set up a file for printing full-color process with additional foil and spot gloss layers.
Now that you’ve got this down, consider other ways to add to your designs with these. Maybe a spot gloss pattern over the entire card? It’s transparent, so you can place it over text and everything and it won’t ruin the readability of the info. Or, how about an invisible logo reversed out of the spot gloss (that layer would be all black with your logo in white)? There are a ton of options.
What other ideas do you have?