Two of my favorite quotes from Pete Scazzero, founder of Emotionally Healthy Discipleship, are:

“What you do maters, but who you are matters even more.”

“The quality of your impact in ministry is based on the quality of your inner life.”

I discovered Pete’s first book in 2007 when I hit a wall after being in full-time ministry for about ten years. I absolutely loved overseeing the kid’s, preteen & youth ministry at my church. It was my calling in life, and I was passionate about pointing students to Jesus. 

But I was overwhelmed, overextended and exhausted. I didn’t yet have a framework of healthy boundaries, nor had I establish routines that supported the inner life needed to serve others out of a full cup.

It was the beginning of my 14-year journey of what Pete calls Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. 

In this first blog post (and more coming soon), I’ll share what I’ve discovered over the years around this topic.

I build upon what I’ve learned in Pete’s books & podcast, adding my thoughts & experiences, and share the many implications they have on leading a youth ministry. 

That’s why I name this topic, Emotionally Healthy Youth Ministry (EHYM for short). 

So, what is it?

Emotionally Healthy Youth Ministry is living out this truth: focusing on inner growth is the key to making the greatest impact in the lives of students. 

What is our inner life? 

While the foundation of our inner life is a growing relationship with Jesus, it also includes your thoughts, emotions, habits, expectations, motives, etc.

EHYM is about making things like this a priority: nurturing our relationship with Jesus, paying attention to what is going on inside of us (the good, bad, and the ugly), noticing what God is doing in and through us, listening to what our emotions are telling us, living a balanced life, designing habits that support the ongoing growth of our inner life, and more.

Often our understanding of the inner life, or spirituality, is narrow in focus. 

While we understand the importance of making God our #1 priority, we ignore other aspects.

For example…

We spend more time “doing” rather than “being.” 

We lead out of our strengths rather than our weaknesses and vulnerability. 

We ignore the gifts of limits (or boundaries). 

We minimize our emotions rather than listening to what they’re telling us. 

We’re unaware of how past wounds, unhealthy expectations, and unchecked motives drive us. 

These are just some examples, all of which we’ll dive into more detail in future blog posts.

The big idea…

Our inner life is a broader and more complex spectrum than many of us realize, and it is the key to having the most significant impact in ministry. 

Yes, Jesus is the one who transforms the lives of students. Not us. 

But if we don’t have a holistic approach to spirituality, it can hinder what God wants to do in students’ lives.

If we’re not aware of how specific emotions (and where they come from) affect certain areas of our lives, how can we help students navigate their emotions?

If we are overwhelmed and stressed due to an overly busy schedule, how can we give our best to students, volunteers and parents?

If we’re not nurturing our relationship with Jesus, how can we effectively point students to Jesus?

If we’re giving more time and energy to youth ministry at the expense of our health or the well-being of our family, what are the implications?

The good news is the opposite is true too. 

If we make our inner lives a priority, then we are better stewards of the ministry we lead, having have a more significant impact in the lives of students.

As previously mentioned, this is the first of many blog posts around the idea of Emotionally Health Youth Ministry. 

So, be on the lookout for more coming soon.

For now, I highly recommend you check out Pete Scazzero’s website and podcast

He’s written several books on Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Discipleship, and Leadership. 

Just in case you’re wondering, this is not sponsored content. We are not directly or indirectly compensated for promoting any of Pete’s work, nor do we have any kind of formal or informal partnership That goes for this and all future content.

I’ve found his teachings & resources to be a really great resource in many ways.

Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth

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  1. Amanda Besemer
    • July 27, 2021

    Good post

  2. Alisa Laska
    • July 27, 2021

    I love this! Such an important topic for those of us in ministry!

  3. Janae Swanson
    • July 28, 2021

    Much needed! Where can one find more tools and or resources regarding this topic to help in ones current ministry?

    Reply 1 Response
  4. Sacha Hannig
    • June 18, 2024

    Hi There! I love all of the EHS stuff with Pete Scazerro and have helped lead EHS small groups within our church setting. I would love to find a curriculum that would work for youth around this stuff! Do you have something written now? Or can you point me in the right direction?


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