My first break up was painful. I remember my stomach being in knots, my mind was a blurred and I thought life was over. I remember talking to a friend and they reminded me, “There are plenty of fishes in the sea.” I wanted to smack him. Even though I didn’t think the pain would ever end, it eventually did.
Youth ministry can have periods of pain when you wonder, “Will this ever be over?” It’s in those moments when you consider quitting and question your calling. Ministry in general is emotionally, spiritually and physically exhausting because you deal with lives. It does not take long for anyone to experience some type of a painful situation. Some of those moments deal with:
- Teens Hurting: Adolescence is filled with a lot of turmoil. As a youth minister you need to sit with your teens through the mess. It’s not easy, but if they can lean on you, you can help them lean on God.
- Thoughts Of Failure: You are never going to be perfect. Somewhere along the line you’ll mess up, get chewed out or just feel isolated. Building community and networking with other youth workers will get you through it.
- Enduring Change: Change is scary and painful. It means sacrifice and leaning into conflict. Taking on change can mean confrontation and disagreement. If it’s approached with an open mind and trust in God anything is possible.
While pain is inevitable there are things you can do to make sure you last for the journey. To endure the painful experiences and transitions make sure you:
- Build Your Network: Connect via social media, and attend conferences for youth ministers. There are many different men and women who have experienced similar painful experiences who want to walk with you. Seek them out.
- Schedule In Rest: The pressure to do more will always push at you. To face and overcome the painful pressures be sure to schedule in time to rest, refuel and refocus. It might not seem possible with all that is going on; however, it’ll be worth it in the long end.
- Find Outlets: You’ll need releases in your life where you can relax. It might be a hobby like cooking. It could be a place like the park. Find places or activities that are constructive. Allow them to help you relax and step away from the sometimes painful grind of youth ministry.
- Protect Your Prayer Life: It’s easy to lose sight of what is work and what is worship. Make sure you are building personal spiritual habits where it’s just you and God. Let others know your boundaries so that they can respect them and you can be held accountable.
While there are many painful experiences in youth ministry, it’s worth enduring. The joy you see as someone discover they are not alone is priceless. The personal growth you see from taking risks is immeasurable. Remember that pain is a part of the process and can be managed. Just rely on others and above all else trust in God.
How do you endure through painful times? What’s your outlet?