My town has ants again. The temperatures have been in the 90’s all week. I should have seen it coming. I threw out a plate of cookies this morning because ants were throwing a party under the plastic I had wrapped around them.

As you can see in the picture of the stove, besides the fact that it needs to be cleaned, is I have been on a mission to kill ants this today. As I send them to an untimely grave, I’ve noticed something that I’ve noticed every time I do this. Ants aren’t very good at running and hiding. They tend to run in jagged patterns and circles when their buddies just got their just desserts. Usually they march single-file in a straight line toward their task, then back to headquarters the same way.

All of this to say, “Ants don’t appear to be strategic when under attack.” In my early days of youth ministry, I could say the same about myself. My insecurities and fear of being fired kept me on edge at the hint of somebody being unhappy with me.

I for sure got squashed a few times while running in circles and non-sensical patterns trying to fix everything. At the hint of confrontation directed toward me, I would let stress get the best of me. I was as unhealthy as most of the people trying to squash me.

Here’s when that changed:

  • When I had a vision for my ministry and could articulate it
  • As I realized my role as the leader entrusted with the youth ministry and stopped yielding to every opinion others shared about what we were or weren’t doing and how it was or wasn’t being done
  • When I made myself available not only to my students, but to their parents as well
  • As I brought in other leaders to join my team and share the load – not only the ministry load, but also the responsibility of passing on the good word of what the ministry is up to

Because I’ve done these,

  • I have confidence to speak authoritatively, rather than apologetically, to people who disagree with what they perceive
  • Parents are my biggest supporters – nobody wants to be on the bad side of a parent who feel like their kid’s youth ministry is being threatened
  • I’m reproducing myself in leaders who “get it”, reinforce it, help implement it, and strengthen it

Feel like you’re being crushed? Don’t be like an ant. Figure this stuff out and you’ll thrive under pressure. If you’re working diligently toward worthy goals with skill, you shouldn’t sweat the occasional confrontation. Instead, you will learn to see them as opportunities to build support as you inform and cast vision with confidence in response to what you would have seen as an attack in your days of being an ant.


Also published on Medium.