Real Keepers: 4 Characteristics That Make A Youth Pastor Indispensable

A recent Gallup poll shows that the average tenure of a youth pastor in the local church is only 18 months. If this is true, that is barely enough time to memorize the names of the students in the program, let alone enough time to have a long-lasting impact on the community that the youth pastor served. Surely, the quick turnaround of youth workers is a result of multiple factors. Sometimes they leave because they choose to, while others leave because they are asked to. Either way, I am fully convinced that each leader should do everything in their power to make themselves an indispensable part of the local church they serve. What I have noticed after years of ministry is that there are specific characteristics that long tenure youth workers display that the more nomadic bunch simply do not.

So how do you make yourself indispensable in the youth room in which you serve?

What attitudes should you be developing to leave a long-term impact on the students you serve? How do you become one of the long tenure youth workers? 

Here are four characteristics that will ensure your ministry shelf life will be longer than 18 months. 

The real keepers don’t engage in negative talk

Like any work place, the church is led by people. Like anything that is led by people, it is flawed and therefore can give way to frustration. When frustration arises, we are all given a choice of how we will handle it. It is easy to slide into constant critique, building bitterness. There are appropriate places to voice your concerns and complaints but that place is not with every co-worker who will listen.

Negative talk is like an organizational cancer and it spreads quickly. Instead of engaging with it, you should be the one to kill it. Real keepers in student ministry are the ones who keep their talk positive and uplifting. Churches can’t afford to lose people like that. 

The real keepers are quick to compliment others

Everyone likes to receive praise for the hard work they put forth, but our egos can take over and want to keep that praise all to ourselves. Some wrongly assume that when others receive accolades it means that there is ultimately less for them.

The kind of youth pastors that churches want on their team are the ones who look for reasons to compliment the work of others around them without fear that it diminishes their own value. On the contrary, the one who dishes out praise to others will see their value on the team continually rise. 

The real keepers are diligent about growing

No youth worker has arrived. Not one of us has fully reached our final potential. It is important to be constantly growing and becoming a healthier, more whole person. The kind of youth worker that churches want serving their families are ones who are fully aware that they have room to grow and take the necessary steps to improve. Whether it is having a dedicated prayer life, a disciplined habit of studying scripture, a hunger to read, an intentional mentor relationship or a desire to listen to podcasts, there are practical ways to reach new levels of spiritual maturity.

The real keepers are those humble enough to know they don’t know everything and are confident enough to keep learning.

The real keepers are people of conviction

Youth culture is constantly shifting and changing. What is thought to be funny, safe, acceptable and good has a way of evolving over time. It is easy for youth pastors to get caught up in the shifting sands and be swayed by the culture around them. The real keepers are the ones who are steady and have deep convictions about what is true and what is real. They draw their convictions from the scriptures and they teach and preach a counter cultural message without shame.

It’s time that the tenure of the youth pastor expands to longer than 18 months. Perhaps the best way to make this a reality is to make sure you are a real keeper so that your church sees you as indispensable.