MinisteriAL: Top 10 “Must Haves” for the Youth Minister Office
Looking around my office I’ve realized that I’ve started to add some items through the years that have helped me in my ministry. More than just Star Wars posters and superhero bobble heads, there are actually quite a few things that I’d recommend to anyone in ministry. Below are a few items I’d personally recommend and a couple I’ve heard from other youth ministers. Feel free to comment with any items we might have missed!
- White Board: This one might seem obvious but I have only recently added a white board to my office wall and I use it almost every day. It is a perfect creative space for writing things to remember and to brainstorm ideas. I even write prayer requests on it to make sure I remember to pray for and follow up on my students’ prayer requests. But what I use it most often for is writing my daily and weekly “To-Do” lists. It helps me divide up my day into compartmentalized sections and keeps me on task since it stares at me on the wall all day. This is a very useful tool for my ministry.
- Calendar: While I get great use out of the calendar on my phone and a monthly desk calendar, I have come to love the year-at-a-glance calendars. The one I currently use is from NeuYear.com and it really helps me to keep in mind big events that are still months away. Having next year’s summer camp in mind when choosing curriculum for next quarter is the mark of a planning aficionado! (I’ve never used that word in my life)
- Thank You Cards: Ephesians 4:29 was always a verse my youth minister drilled into our heads when I was younger and I continue to grow in appreciation for the importance of giving encouragement. If someone has contributed to your ministry in any way, if someone has blessed you or your family personally, if you’ve witnessed someone going the extra mile in service to someone, write them a Thank You Card right now. Whenever I text someone instead of writing them a card for something big they’ve done it feels cheap. Even catching them in the pews at church can feel forced due to time constraints and general awkwardness of which I can proudly boast. Writing a note is a great way to make it personal. Let them know it was important enough to you to stop and recognize what they did. Plus, a bonus is that it’s something they can hang on to and save if they feel they may need to be reminded and encouraged later on. I personally keep a file in my desk titled “encouragement” that has nothing else but notes of thanks and encouragement because I know I need those reminders when I go through tough times in ministry.
- Scented Candle: This one might seem silly to some people but I’m a big believer in creating a pleasant atmosphere in any area you do ministry. Whether it’s background music in the youth room, a clean classroom, or an office that smells good, it’s important to make these places of ministry a place people feel comfortable. I fully confess to hypocrisy on this issue in that my desk is rarely organized and that does stress some people out. I still believe that everything from your seating to your lighting in your office can have a positive or negative effect on those who visit it.
- Standing Desk: I recently purchased from Amazon a reasonably priced laptop platform that allows me to stand while I use my laptop. This helps me cut down on my sitting time, gets me to burn more calories, and often givse me more focus and energy. While they do sell entire standing desks or desktops, this $30 substitute has been a practical compromise.
- Bluetooth Speaker/Headphones: Rarely a day goes by that I work in my office and don’t listen to music, a podcast, or even the Bible. Most laptop speakers offer the bare minimum when it comes to sound quality. I have found that for the purposes of a fuller and more immersive listening experience, which in turn helps me focus and distract me from becoming distracted, a quality bluetooth speaker and/or headphones (depending how thin your walls may be) are a worthwhile investment.
- Spiritual Mementos: This is probably another no-brainer for most ministers but this list would simply be incomplete without it. It is imperative to have tokens that serve as spiritual reminders pinned to your wall, displayed on your shelf, or kept on your desk. Each of these items should represent a spiritually significant point in your life or a Biblical truth that has bearing on your personal relationship with Jesus and your ministry. In my office, I proudly display a picture of one of my best friends from my youth group days and I praying together to remind myself the importance of accountability and brotherhood. I have a picture of my wife and family nearby that reminds me where I came from and who I am accountable for. I also have pictures and items from mission trips, camps, and events that hold spiritual significance on their own. Something else I got from my youth minister was to keep pictures of graduated seniors on my wall. I love this because it reminds me to pray for them, check in on them, and it gives me perspective for how I should be preparing my current students for life post youth group. Meaningful quotes, scriptures, purpose statements and commitments are also placed strategically where I can see them everyday. (not my book shelf)
- Shelf Space: Having a book shelf in an office of any kind may seem pretty standard but I’ve come to view them as indispensable. Being someone who struggles to hold still and read consistently it helps me to have shelf space that is specifically designated for books I’ve actually read or need to read, for curricula I want to teach, and for resources that I need to utilize. Empty shelf space challenges me to read more and be more purposeful in how I continue to educate myself and my students. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a place to put a bobble head or two.
- Bible Commentaries and Dictionaries: Speaking of shelf space, no minister should be without a reliable commentary or dictionary they can turn to when preparing lessons and sermons. James 3:1 is no joke and it’s always good to have a trusty commentary nearby, even if its for a quick glance to make sure I’m on point when teaching from a specific scripture. A quality Bible commentary or dictionary can be pricey but are worth it especially if you commit to using them.
- Personality Tokens: I almost didn’t add this one to the list, but I’m going to anyway because I do think it can be very important. First of all, no, your office should not equate to your personal man cave where you store all your toys and decorations your spouse doesn’t let you show off at home. Secondly, professionalism is important, even in youth ministry and your elders and ministry staff will appreciate your understanding of that fact. That being said, I believe having these tokens displayed in your office can have some profoundly positive effects. The decor in your office communicates many things to those who visit it and for the minister that inhabits it. Personality tokens can add an element of comfort and confidence in one’s identity. I always like to remind myself that my identity in Christ is of utmost importance but that Christ didn’t call to ministry the version of Alan who only reads scripture and fills his hours with prayer and meditation. Christ called the version of Alan who also likes to talk about movies, spend time outside with students playing ultimate or disc golf, eat pizza and go on adventures with his wife, and who embraces the gifts God’s given him. I love it when a student comes in my office who points out an action figure or a movie poster and we spend 10 minutes connecting over that topic before we move on to a more spiritual one.
Kleenex, Bottles of water, snacks, a mini fridge, computer, extra bibles to give away, comfortable chairs, a change of clothes, deck of cards or board games, coffee, frisbee, exercise mat, and lock box.
Don’t forget to comment if you think of one I missed and thanks for reading!