Confessions of a Youth Pastor: 3 Things I Need to Get Off My Chest
Well, it’s 2019. As we celebrate a brand new year we take time to reminisce on the past while anxiously anticipate what is to come. In an effort to fully embrace all the newness that 2019 has brought, I thought I would take a moment and be honest and vulnerable and make a few confessions about working in student ministry.
Where confession can often feel daunting and scary because we feel like we are the only ones with these feelings or thoughts, I know after 14 years of ministry that these confessions are ones that many can relate to. Maybe for the collective therapy for us all, I will voice them out loud.
So here are three things I need to get off my chest.
1. I thought student ministry was going to be all fun and games.
Coming out of Bible college I had this picture of ministry that mostly involved leading messy games, eating pizza and helping students toilet paper people’s houses. I thought that being a youth pastor meant just giving youth a really good time and hopefully, somehow, influencing them with the love of Jesus.
Turns out ministry is much messier than I had previously anticipated. From walking with students through their parents’ divorce to praying with students before they undergo a serious surgery, ministry to youth means being with them through some of the ugliest things life can throw at them.
Though ministry in this context has been much harder, emotional and more challenging than fun and games, I am thankful for the privilege to help carry their burdens.
2. They don’t pay us enough.
Let’s be honest. Most youth pastors work much harder than their paychecks would give them credit for. From my vantage point, I don’t believe most senior pastors and committees mean anything by it, they just simply don’t know how valuable and draining working with students and families can be. However, here is what I know to be true, we never got into this for the money anyway. Otherwise I would have become a doctor or lawyer.
That certainly would have helped all those school loans. So, though you are underpaid and overworked, keep your head up, you will get your reward.
3. Not all the messes I got blamed for were my fault.
It never fails that after a youth trip or event there is some kind of mess that someone in the church gets upset about and pins on the “crazy youth.” Now, there were things broken or dirtied under my watch, however, not nearly as many as I took the heat for. This struggle just simply comes with the territory.
Don’t let yourself get discouraged by the pointed fingers. Don’t get frustrated by those who might be skeptical of your ability to be responsible. Simply stay humble and hustle hard. When you make a mistake, own up to it. When it wasn’t your fault, just smile and get the vacuum anyway.
After getting these things off my chest I feel ready for a new year. Maybe you do to. So get back in the youth room and be a part of changing the world!