At the end of a long day I just need to unwind. My job is filled with many rewards; however, there can be times I just want to mail it in. One of the ways I release the tension is through music (Especially with songs like Hold On by The Gospel Whiskey Runners). It’s one of the small things I do to help me last in youth ministry.
Youth ministry is like a marathon. It’s a journey filled with challenges and moments when you ask, “Why am I still doing this?” It can be brutal because of the emotional and spiritual battles that take place. While youth ministry is grueling it’s still rewarding.
To stick around and witness those rewards you need to know how to last in youth ministry. That means doing a few small things and not neglecting the essentials. To last in youth ministry you need to:
TAKE THE FOCUS OFF THE TEENAGERS
Teens are an essential part of ministry, but not the only part. You need to focus your attention on volunteers and parents as well. Parents need to trust you in order to send their teen.
Volunteers are the ones who will pick you up when it gets rough. Volunteers expand your capacity and allow you to focus on what needs to be done. Spend the majority of your time investing in them.
ENGAGE THE PASTOR
A silo ministry can only last so long. You need to work on the relationship with your pastor no matter how difficult. That might mean:
- Praying for him
- Asking him about his day
- Looking at ways you can serve him
If a pastor feels like you are on his side, he’ll trust you. If he trusts you, he’ll invest in you and the relationship will grow. If you are at opposing ends it will not only hurt your ability to serve youth, but the church’s ability to grow.
WORK OUT A SCHEDULE
Your time is one of the most valuable commodities you have. Once you lose it you can never get it back. There is pressure to be available every night of the week and that’s insane.
Create limits and margin in your life so that you have opportunities to breathe. If you protect your schedule you’ll find yourself more rested and focused. You need a solid schedule in order to last.
DREAM BEYOND BIG
You and I know youth ministry is more than pizza; however, we don’t always act that way. Your dreams need to be big in order to last and grow in your ministry. To get out of survival mode give yourself a retreat where you can ask:
Where is God calling me to lead this ministry?
Do not fear big dreams because of the risk. While failure might be the outcome you can always rebound. Dreaming too small turns into complacency. That complacency turns into ineffectiveness and a loss of relevance.
FOCUS ON YOUR OWN DISCIPLESHIP
Youth ministry is an intense spiritual battle. It’s easy to think you are growing in faith by preparing small group questions. You might think:
“I work in a church, so I have to be getting to know God.”
Your discipleship takes intentionality. You need to make sure you are being fed and that means carving out time to work out the same spiritual disciplines you are teaching other teens.
Hold on and embrace the journey God’s put in front of you. To last for the long haul lean into the difficult tasks and focus on where God’s taking you. Youth ministry is like a marathon and every day is just another step in the journey.
What are some of the reasons people struggle to stay in youth ministry? Please comment.