Guest Post: When A Bad Day Strikes

September 27, 2012 — Leave a comment

Not every day is an easy day in student ministries.  Anyone the is even two months in on a good internship can tell you that.  Well, today was a day and a half for me.  While I won’t go into why, I will go into what I learned from this difficult day.  Anyone can choose to do a tough day alone, with Jesus, or with their spouse.  Occasionally, going it alone will be okay, other times, one may suffer for choosing to go solo.  Moreover, moving through a difficult day with a team can also be varied in a few key ways.  Recently, the team that I am a part of, has been faced with a couple of rocky days- emergencies with students, families, and each other; all things that are normal in any church environment.

However, today was different in that the whole team was in the office, and we all dealt with the emotion of the situation at the same time.  For us, timing was key.

I learned a few things today:

  1. It’s good to have a team that has your back.  Maybe your team is made up of staff in your department, or maybe it’s your church staff working as a team, or maybe your team is made up of elders and veteran volunteers.  Any of those options can make a great team.  If you don’t have a team, find one!  If you feel there is a rift in your team right now, be part of the solution to fix it!
  2. Moments of honesty are healthy.  You need to have moments where you can speak freely with your team.  Be wise and don’t let this become gossip, because we all know that it can.  However, as a team, with trust and confidentiality, you should be able to be honest.  Speak your mind, vent if you have to.  If you don’t have some one to vent to, find someone pronto!
  3. It’s good not be a workaholic.  While I am sure that the idea of being a workaholic is a blog post all in itself, being part of team and having people in your life that don’t let you become a “non-stop worker” is a good thing.  It means they care for you and don’t want to see you burn out.  Listen to them, and be willing to speak it back to them if need be.
  4. It’s good to laugh together.  After our tough day, I sent a funny video around to everyone in hopes that they would laugh.  The winning idea is that there will be more bad days, not just one, not just ten, but MANY.  So if you take every shot personally, if you let it be the issue on every team members mind, your doing a disservice to the team.  Have fun- you know fun right!  We all need to have that now and then, especially after a bad day.
  5. It’s necessary to take time to process.  Whether the struggles are related to volunteer leaders, students, or parents, make sure that you know the process or chain-of-command, to make sure that you not making it up as you go along.  When tough things happen, it is easy to be flustered and shocked, especially if it really is unexpected.  I know that every situation is different, but guess what, if you have some idea of what to do in a given situation, you at least have a starting point or a lead staffer that can delegate what needs to be done.

What do you think? What am I leaving out?  What do you do after a bad day at the office?  Share some tips and tricks for other youth workers like me to use for next time.  Trust me, there will be a next time, the only question is- Will you be prepared?

Justin Herman (@heyjustinherman)  is currently serving as the Director of Ministry for Jr. High at Mariners Church (@marinerschurch) in Irvine, CA.  Mariners is a large multi-campus church serving the people and needs of orange county.  Their vision is, “transforming ordinary people, into passionate followers of Jesus, courageously changing the world.” He has been in youth ministry for eight years in various roles from intern to full time.  His passion is students.  You can connect with Justin on Twitter ( or on Facebook ( or follow his blog (<>)


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