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Urban Youth Ministry Self-Care Toolkit

Sabbath Rest in a 24/7 City

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11: 28-30

Welcome to this five month journey toward finding God's rest in the midst of urban ministry. The city is the place where life never stops. Stores and restaurants are open 24 hours, and peoples' needs never quit either.

  • How do we find rest in the midst of a 24/7 city?
  • How do we stop when the city never does?
  • What does it mean to care for ourselves when the needs of others can overwhelm us?

We know that the great commandment is to love God first, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. But in reality, some of us are better at loving our neighbors (the kids and families we work with) than ourselves. We love our neighbor instead of ourselves, and then find ourselves worn out and exhausted.  Our entire FYI team prays that this "toolkit" will in fact assist you in your journey toward finding new rhythms in ministry—rhythms that include rest and renewal as a balance for the intensity of our daily work.

QUICK LINKS

Month 1: Your Community

Month 2: Your Life

Month 3: Your Pain

Month 4: Your Struggles

Month 5: Your Rhythms


Month 1: Your Community


Article:

Sabbath Rest in a 24/7 City: A Journey for Urban Youth Workers by Jude Tiersma Watson What is the "environmental press" of the city, and why does it impact us so deeply? Part I of the Urban Ministry Self-Care series, Sabbath Rest in a 24/7 City introduces important concepts for your ministry journey.

Podcast:

Urban Self-Care Interview

Dr. Kara Powell interviews Dr. Jude Tiersma Watson and Kimberly Williams, researchers and creators of the Sabbath Rest in a 24/7 City ministry resource.

Practices:

Each month of the Sabbath Rest journey will feature weekly practices that you can incorporate into your daily rhythms.  We have intentionally made these practices simple and focused.  Note that these exercises can be done alone, but work well with a partner or group.  You can download the below practices in one printable document (pdf format) to keep in your Bible, post on your refrigerator, or whatever is most helpful to you.

Week 01

Each city is different. After reading the article, reflect on the ways that the city presses in on you in your urban setting. Which examples in the article resonate with you? Which don’t? What are some of the major stressors in city life and ministry where you live? If you are single, or raising small children, how does that impact how you perceive your environment? As part of your reflection, write or draw on some paper or in your journal, or talk to a friend or mentor about these stressors.

Week 02

Read Matthew 11:28 in Scripture. Do you hear God's invitation? Read the verse slowly, then pause. In your mind, picture Jesus speaking to you through these verses, inviting you to his rest. For one week, read this scripture every day and reflect on it, hearing the invitation each night before you sleep (or in the morning if that works better for you).

Week 03

Listen to the audio podcast for this month. After you listen, think of one or two helpful insights that you can share with someone and figure out when you might be able to share those insights with them.

Week 04

Take a 20 minute walk in your neighborhood. You can walk alone or with a friend. Pay attention to the sights, smells, and sounds around you. Try to keep your mind from racing about the things you have to do and the issues you are facing at the moment, and instead ask God to show you what God is doing in this place at this time.  What do you find yourself noticing?  Be attentive to the ways that God is present in the noise and sights of the city.  For instance, how might sirens become a call to prayer? During this week, as you walk in the city, discover how God is speaking to you about God's heart for the places and people around you.

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Month 2: Your Life


Article:

Your Life: Finding Space to Love God, Your Neighbor, and Yourself in the City by Jude Tiersma Watson and Kimberly Williams How does our own spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental health impact the ways we love God and others? In Month 2 of the Sabbath Rest in a 24/7 City series, we look at our own lives for clues to preventing stress and burnout.

Podcast:

Wiley Scott Interview

Kara Powell interviews Wiley Scott, the Young Life Northern Division Vice President for Field Ministries, on finding rhythms of balance, rest, and healthy relationships in urban youth ministry.

Audio podcast:

Leroy Barber Interview

Kara Powell interviews Leroy Barber, president of Mission Year, about finding personal, relational, and spiritual health in the midst of ministry.

Practices:

Each month features weekly practices that you can incorporate into your daily rhythms. We have intentionally made these practices simple and focused, hoping you will take time with each one during the course of the month. Note that these exercises can be done alone, but work well with a partner or group. You can download the below practices in one printable document (pdf format) to keep in your Bible, post on your refrigerator, or whatever is most helpful to you.

Week 01

In their landmark book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend recognize that "we need to set mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us distinguish what is our responsibility and what isn't." ((Henry Cloud & John Townsend, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 25.)) So as urban youth workers, how do we love our God, our neighbors, and ourselves in the ways we take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually?  In order to understand how this looks for urban youth workers, we asked youth workers April Diaz and Carla LaFayette to share some of their own rhythms. April Diaz has been doing youth ministry for a dozen years, and currently is the Next Generation pastor (birth-high school) at Newsong Church in Irvine, California.  Here are some of her tips for finding balance and health in ministry:

Physical: I am loving myself best when I have a regular rhythm of working out (yoga, strength training, cardio).  When I'm not in that flow, I know that my boundaries are weak.  Turning off my cell phone and not checking email during evenings, my Sabbath, and day of rest also helps me disengage from ministry and love myself and my family better.

Mental: Turning off my ministry brain is the greatest asset to recovery for me.  Intentionally choosing to cease thinking about ministry problems when I leave an event or the office helps me care for myself in ways I never have before.

Spiritual: I think everyone has to find a pattern of silence and solitude.  For me, I've found that I need a few hours every Monday morning and one day a month away to stay deeply connected to God. Brennan Manning's challenge to be very wary of the person who cannot be alone with God has really changed me.

Carla LaFayette has been in youth-related ministry full time for just under 25 years. Currently she serves as the Vice President of Strategic Programs at the Urban Youth Workers Institute (uywi.org).  Here are her reflections on personal health in ministry:

Physical: I've always found it helpful to tell others what my physical struggles and goals are so that it's "out there" for them to see.  Otherwise, I can cheat and cut corners all I want in public secrecy.  In my latest attempt to stay healthy I joined an eating program with a close friend who allows me to stay accountable while traveling by bugging her with texts and phone calls. It does my ministry no good if I keep the scales tipped toward busyness while my body takes the toll of neglect.

Emotional: Because of a heavy travel schedule, I find that my "emotional tank" gets drained pretty quickly while on the road. One very practical thing I do weekly is call my dad on Sunday afternoons - no matter what city or time zone I happen to be in.  This keeps me grounded to the family community I so desperately need and allows for continuing bonding time with my dad.

Spiritual: The single most helpful element in my spiritual journey is mentoring relationships. Without these relationships I easily lose focus and find myself wandering far and wide. I recently committed to pray daily about a particular life issue and invited a coworker to join me.  At the end of each work day we meet for 15 minutes to pray together and it has transformed both my prayer life and our relationship. It has been liberating to learn that one of my divine pathways to God is through relationships.

Making it Personal:

  1. What aspect of your life (physical, mental, spiritual, emotional) is most in need of some new rhythms?
  2. What ideas from April and Carla would you like to try?
  3. What other ideas do you have?  When can you try those ideas this week?

Week 02

This week check out the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) Screening that can be found at: http://www.proqol.org/ProQol_Test.html. This is an assessment that looks at your Compassion Satisfaction, Burnout, and Trauma/Compassion Fatigue. ((According to the ProQOL Manual: Compassion Satisfaction is about the pleasure you derive from being able to do your work well. Burnout is associated with feelings of hopelessness and difficulties in dealing with work or in doing your job effectively. Compassion fatigue/Secondary Trauma is about your work-related, secondary exposure to extremely stressful events (pg 5 of the PorQOL Manual). B. Hudnall Stamm, Ph.D. The Professional Quality of Life Scale: Compassion Satisfaction, Burnout & Compassion Fatigue/Secondary Trauma Scales, Published by the Institute of Rural Health Idaho State University and Sidran Press. http://www.isu.edu/~bhstamm, 2005.)) On this website you will be able to find the test, how to score and evaluate the test, as well as many other resources. There is even a pocket card on caring for yourself that you can print out and keep in your wallet!  

Week 03

The podcasts for our series this month come from Wiley Scott, a regional vice president for Young Life, and Leroy Barber, author of the book New Neighbor and president of the urban ministry Mission Year. Both share from their experiences of creating sustainable lives as urban youth workers.  

Week 04

In her book, God's Joyful Surprises, Sue Monk Kidd challenges us to "Consider how carefully God has designed space into the world." According to Kidd, "It's the spaces that shape and define creation." ((Sue Monk Kidd, God's Joyful Surprise, San Francisco, CA: Harper and Row, 1987, 161.)) Space defines non-space. Without space between notes, music would just be noise. Without the space from stoplights we would constantly have accidents. For this week carve out between two and six hours of space. During this time turn off your cell phone, shut off your computer, leave your house, and set your work aside. This is a time of embracing your role as the beloved.  

Going Deeper

Emily White Hodge has been working in the urban non-profit world for 15 years in various capacities. She has served as a Youth Pastor, Mentor, Young Life leader, Executive Assistant and Operations Director at various organizations. Her passion is empowering and helping people from various backgrounds to build bridges between cultures. Emily wrote a reflection as a mother on her young daughter's ability to help her slow down and reconsider her pace in life and ministry. Download her reflection (pdf) here.  

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Month 3: Your Pain


Article:

Your Pain: Six Lenses to Help by Jude Tiersma Watson Pain is a given in ministry, but what we do with our pain is up to us. This article looks at our responses to pain and suffering for insights to help prevent burnout.

Podcast:

Cynthia Eriksson Interview

Kara Powell interviews Cynthia Eriksson, a Fuller clinical psychology faculty member who specializes in trauma. Cynthia shares insights and strategies for working through pain and suffering, particularly considering the vicarious pain we experience in youth ministry.

Practices:

Each month of the Sabbath Rest journey will feature weekly practices that you can incorporate into your daily rhythms. We have intentionally made these practices simple and focused. Note that these exercises can be done alone, but work well with a partner or group. You can download the below practices in one printable document (pdf format) to keep in your Bible, post on your refrigerator, or whatever is most helpful to you.

Week 01

Look back at the article and look at the various responses to pain we often choose. What are some of the ways you have used to numb out, avoid or distract yourself from pain and suffering?

  • Take some time, on your own or with a partner, and reflect on your own lens or lenses regarding suffering. Which lens has been your primary lens through which you view suffering?
  • Think about the different ways you respond to pain and suffering. Do the responses in the article resonate with you? Do you see them in the youth around you?
  • What is one change you can make this week in the ways you respond? Write about it in your journal or share the insight with a friend.

Week 02

Listen to the [intlink id="3854" type="post"]audio[/intlink] of Drs. Kara Powell and Cynthia Eriksson that focuses on how trauma affects us as leaders. As a follow up to the audio, read the [intlink id="235" type="post"]article[/intlink] by Cynthia Eriksson and Brad Griffin on trauma and the importance of lament.

Week 03

Watch and listen to this video of Psalm 13, a psalm of lament.

  • Do you resonate with this video and/or this song? If so or if not, why?
  • Try writing your own lament, pouring out your heart to God, either in mourning or in protest. It can be a song, a poem, or an anguished cry—the form doesn't matter. God wants to hear what is truly in your heart.

Week 04

It can be difficult to take space for prayer in the midst of suffering. Sometimes we don't even know what this could look like. Take some time to brainstorm what some rituals of urban pain relief could look like. For example, if one of the youth you work with experiences a death, you might want to light a candle with them as a way to remember the life of their loved one. If a friend is struggling with anger you may want to take them to a bowling alley and encourage them to picture the headpin as the source of their anger.

After you make a list, ask yourself if you need to put any of these rituals into practice in this week. If so, carve out some time in your schedule this week to do this.

Going Deeper

Jude Tiersma Watson interviewed a friend in urban ministry about his own journey through pain and suffering in youth ministry.  Read the interview (pdf) here.

Also, the following websites may be helpful to you in finding resources for coping with pain and suffering in ministry:

  • The American Association of Christian Counselors: www.aacc.net
  • The national center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the national child traumatic stress websites have good self-care and trauma handouts:  www.ncptsd.va.gov and www.nctsnet.org
  • The Sidran Foundation is a resource in the area of trauma and abuse, and their site includes a way to find local therapists in your area: www.sidran.org
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Month 4: Your Struggles


Article:

your lifeYour Struggles: From Coping to Freedom by Kimberly Williams In our pursuit of rest and balance in ministry, exploring our struggles and addictions is not an option. In this article, we look toward ways to recognize and find healing for our addictive patterns.

Podcast:

Mark Laaser Interview

Kara Powell interviews addiction recovery specialist Mark Laaser about the realities of addiction and ministry.

Practices:

Each month of the Sabbath Rest journey will feature weekly practices that you can incorporate into your daily rhythms. We have intentionally made these practices simple and focused. Note that these exercises can be done alone, but work well with a partner or group. You can download the below practices in one printable document (pdf format) to keep in your Bible, post on your refrigerator, or whatever is most helpful to you.

Week 01

Read the article, “Your Struggles: From Coping to Freedom.” Then reflect on these questions:

  • What specifically resonated with you in this article? Why do you think that is?
  • Can you identify any coping mechanisms you find yourself using to cover up your struggles, to cover up facing yourself and God? Do you find yourself getting lost in video games? The internet? Your work or ministry?
  • Try this prayer exercise, adapted from Psalm 37:7. Author Don Postema instructs, “Allow this text to lead you gradually into a quiet, relaxed space before God....savoring each line before going on to the next.” ((Don Postema, Catch Your Breath: God's Invitation to Sabbath Rest (Grand Rapids: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 1997), 19.))

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently… Be still before the Lord and wait… Be still before the Lord… Be still… Be… —Psalm 37:7

Week Two

Do you know what resources are available to you? A recent study asked urban youth workers what emotional/relational, physical, and spiritual resources they used in the past 12 months. ((Cynthia Eriksson et al, Fuller Youth Institute, “Risk and Resilience in Urban Youth Ministry: Stress, Spirituality, and Support,” full report available online at http://www.fulleryouthinstitute.org/pdfs/risk_and_resilience_report_2007.pdf.)) Of these services, Physical Health resources were used the most: General physician=52%, Dentist=36%, and OB/GYN=26%. Spiritual Health Support resources were utilized the next most: Personal Spiritual Mentor/Director=22%, Clergy=18%, and Teammate/Coworker=13%.

Unfortunately, Emotional/Relational Support resources were utilized the least: Individual counseling/psychotherapy=13%, Clergy=8%, and Lay Counselor/Spiritual Director=8%. Take some time this week to gather information about the resources that are available to you, and consider when you may need to access some of these resources for yourself.

The study also found that the top three barriers to utilizing services were lack of time, affordability, and self-addressing the problem. What are some of the barriers that may keep you from you from utilizing the resources available to you?

Week Three

Take some time to listen to the podcast with Dr. Mark Laaser for this month. Laaser notes that one of the key features of addiction is being disconnected from God, others, and ourselves. So one of the first steps in healing is getting connected. Find one safe person in the next week and begin to share your own story of struggle.

Week Four

This month’s article talks about being committed to addressing our struggles. This can be overwhelming to think about at times. Those in 12-step groups are familiar with the language of “one day at a time.” How is it that we can continue to make choices towards healing? N.T. Wright, a respected New Testament Theologian, gave a recent talk in Pasadena, CA. When discussing the topic of virtue and living out the lives that we were created to live, he describes making a thousand small choices, so that when we have to make the choice that really counts it will be like second nature. What is one small choice you can focus on making this week that will draw you closer to facing yourself and facing God?

If you’re interested in listening to or watching N.T. Wright’s talk, entitled “A Evening with N.T. Wright” you can download it for free from iTunes U. For help with this follow this link.

Going Deeper

Check yourself. To some degree we all struggle with coping mechanisms and wounds from our past. At what point do we need to talk through these things with a trusted friend, and at what point do we need some professional help? Check out some of the assessments below to get a current pulse on your own levels of need:

For Alcoholism: http://www.aa.org/lang/en/subpage.cfm?page=71 For Sex Addiction: http://www.sexhelp.com/sast.cfm (If you’re looking for a counselor in this area check out this resource: http://www.aasect.org/directory_usa.asp) For an Eating Disorder: http://psychcentral.com/eatingquiz.htm For Workaholism http://www.workaholics-anonymous.org/page.php?page=knowing For Co-Dependency http://www.codependents.org/foundation-docs-patterns.php http://www.mental-health-today.com/articles/codepen.htm For Depression http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/articles/070711/11depression.test.htm For Video Game Addiction: http://www.videogameaddiction.net/video-game-addiction-symptoms.php For Internet Addiction: http://counsellingresource.com/quizzes/internet-addiction/index.html For a Pornography Addiction: http://www.no-porn.com/test.html (Check out this resource: http://xxxchurch.com/gethelp/)

 

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Month 5: Your Rhythms


Article:

your rhythmsYour Rhythms: Finding the Rest of God in the Midst of the City by Jude Tiersma Watson Exploring the rhythms that help us keep a sane pace in the midst of chaotic ministry lives.

Podcast:

Christine Sine Interview

Kara Powell interviews Christine Sine, Executive Director of Mustard Seed Associates and author of GodSpace: Time for Peace in the Rhythms of Life, about developing more sustainable rhythms.

Practices:

Each month of the Sabbath Rest journey will feature weekly practices that you can incorporate into your daily rhythms. We have intentionally made these practices simple and focused. Note that these exercises can be done alone, but work well with a partner or group. You can download the below practices in one printable document (pdf format) to keep in your Bible, post on your refrigerator, or whatever is most helpful to you.

Week One

Read the article, “Your Rhythms: Finding the Rest of God in the Midst of the City.” Spend some time reflecting own your own rhythms. Are there rhythms in your own life that are sustaining you? Are there areas of your life that need some attention? Think of one step you can take this week that will strengthen one of the rhythms in your life. For example, you may decide that to enter into more silence before the noise of the city begins, that you get up 10-15 minutes earlier and sit in silence in the quiet of the morning, before the day’s activities begin (for you night owls, evening works too).

Week Two

Read the following quote a few times:

"The point of the Sabbath is to honor our need for sane rhythms of work and rest. It is to honor our body's need for rest, the spirit's need for replenishment and the soul's need to delight itself in God for God's own sake. It begins with a willingness to acknowledge the limits of our humanness and to live more graciously within the order of things. And the first order of things is that we are creatures and God is the Creator." (Ruth Haley Barton in Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation (Downers Grove: IVP, 2006), 137.)

Do you ever struggle with your own human limitations?  Do you ever struggle to extend grace to yourself when you come up against your human limitations? What would it look like to "live more graciously within the order of things?" How might keeping more of a Sabbath be helpful?

Week Three

Listen to the audio interview with Christine Sine. What insight most stands out for you? Is there a suggestion that can be helpful for your own life?  How could you implement that suggestion over the next week or month?

 

Week Four

We began this series with these verses from Matthew 11:28 (from The Message):

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you will recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

Reflect on ways that you can continue to enter into the unforced rhythms of grace in your own life. What is one grace-filled rhythm you will seek to add into your life?


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Additional Self-Care Resources from the FYI Site


adrenalin

Adrenalin: Our Secret Addiction

Adrenalin addiction, while rarely discussed, is perhaps one of the more pervasive addictions for leaders and 
youth workers today. And though it may sound like we’re exaggerating, it is an actual clinical reality. Read on to learn not only more about this secret ministry obsession, but also a surprising strategy for moving beyond adrenalin and toward balance.
rest in the city

Rest in the City

While it may seem an oxymoron, resting in the city is not only possible, but imperative for urban youth workers. Read on as Kimberly Williams explores the “prayer of rest” as a method for encountering God in the city, suburbs, or wherever you find yourself in ministry.
Stress in the City

Stress in the City: A New Study of Youth Workers

Do you ever wonder about the personal impact of ministry stress? Do you ever suspect that the risks of your ministry might outweigh the ability you have to survive or be resilient in the midst of them? This report looks at the findings from a recent FYI study of urban youth workers from around the country, with implications for youth workers in every environment.
REST

R-E-S-T: The Four-Letter Word of Youth Workers?

When you think of the Sabbath, what comes to mind? If the answer is, “A work day,” then you may want to consider these thoughts about rest and its critical role in your ministry.


 


A Note About the Team

Dr. Jude Tiersma Watson, Associate Professor of Urban Mission and an urban youth worker herself in Los Angeles, is heading up the development of this unique self-care resource specifically tailored for the urban youth worker (though there will be principles and resources helpful for all youth workers).  Kimberly Williams, FYI author and former Oakland Mission Year director, joins Jude in the research and development of these resources.

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Volume 10 Issue 12

July 10 2014

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