The Most Important Thing in Ministry and 3 Things You Can Do About It

What’s the most important thing that you do?

Is it your preaching?  Maybe it’s your leadership?  Better yet is it being relational?

I think it is none of those things. In fact I think the most important thing we must do is so obvious that we often forget it. I heard of another person this week who had their life drastically affected by one thing:  They had an affair.  I do not know all of the details but I would bet money they forgot the most important thing they should be doing.

It is so simple but so easily neglected.

The most important thing you should do as a youth leader is care for your soul. That’s right, care for your soul, not the souls of others.  When you have committed your life to pastoring others, this can often feel counter-intuitive.  Your natural instinct is to care for others.

What I am saying is you will never be successful in pastoring others if you cannot care for your own soul. Here are three simple ways you can care for your soul that Eugene Peterson talks about in his book Working the Angles.


Yes we all know that scripture is important.  Let’s be honest we often use it like a good commentary or book.  When we need something we open it up. When you need an answer to a question you open it up.  When you need to write a sermon you open it up. But when does scripture feed your soul?  Do you go to scripture for nothing more than the soul nurturing impact that it has?

When scripture has become nothing more than a tool in our ministries we are in trouble.  First and foremost it must feed our souls.


I wrote a rant on this not too long ago called, A Youth Ministry Rant about Lack of Depth.  I am just as concerned today as I was then.  We don’t pray.

Sure, we pray for people when they ask and we even throw our requests up to God when we have them.

What I am talking about is the soul nurturing conversation with God.  When was the last time that has happened for you?  When you just spent time with God in conversation.  When this happens your soul is cared for in such deep ways.

Spiritual Direction

You must have a mentor!  I am convinced of this.  I enjoy mentoring others in my life but I also am grateful for the couple of mentors that I have.

Mentors can see when you are not caring for your soul.  They see when you are spiritually unhealthy and call you out on it.

You need these kind of people in you life.  So go find them! It sounds awkward, but go up to someone that you want as your mentor and ask them if they are willing.  It is simple but powerful.

I promise you that a mentoring relationship is crucial in the caring for your soul.

Everything you do in ministry flows from your relationship with God.  Therefore, it would make sense that this relationship with God is the most important thing in your ministry.

How do you care for your soul?

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Tyson Howells

Tyson is the associate youth ministry director for Vanguard Youth Ministry Institute. He has been a youth pastor for many years in Winnipeg as well as in Edmonton. Tyson is passionate in seeing relational youth ministry that results in youth that are passionate about following Jesus. He still leads a small group at the youth group in his home church.