Youth ministry is hard. And it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working with students. Whether today is day one or day 7,301 (that’s 20 years and a day of youth ministry), the reality of speaking truth into the lives of students is hard.
It shouldn’t be, right? I mean, it’s a great “job,” isn’t it? We get paid for studying God’s Word, for crafting unique and relevant ways to communicate God’s Word, and we get to hang out with students in great places and do awesome things. Seriously, when was the last time your senior pastor sat down to play Call of Duty and could call it ministry because you he was hanging out with a bunch of guys? Our job is AWESOME!
Awesome, yes. Easy, no! Youth ministry comes with it’s share of difficult times. But why? Why is it hard? Why does it burn so many out in so little time? Why is it that we struggle so much with feelings of frustration, inadequacy, loneliness, hurt? Why can’t it be easy?
There are a couple of things that come to mind when I think about the difficulties of being a youth worker.
It’s Not Just A Job, It’s a Passion
For many of us, youth ministry is more than a job, it’s a passion. We eat, sleep, drink, and breathe ministry. We pour ourselves into the creating, writing, leading, and loving. It’s on our heart and mind 24/7. If it were a drug, we’d be addicts. Why? Because it’s who we are. It’s how God wired us. We do what we do because God created us to do this. It’s not like we settled here because flipping burgers wasn’t a better alternative. There is no alternative. So we we do it! We put ourselves out there. We go at full steam. And we give ourselves to the ministry we so deeply love.
Because Like Us, People as Sinful Too
No one’s perfect, we know that. But because no one’s perfect, things happen. People say things, do things, not realizing the hurtfulness of their actions. We give it all we got. All of our attention, focused on making what we’re doing the best we can. All the praying, planning, prepping, leading, doing, and succeeding crumbles with one unchecked comment. People make mistakes just like we do. Often the comments/opinions are base on a very short-sighted idea. They might miss the bigger picture, not seeing for themselves the good and even the great things that God is doing. As painful as it is at the time, it’s good for us to remember that people make mistakes too. When possible, don’t take the comments personally. Listen carefully. Note their observations. Consider what they shared. And assess the content and context of which the speak. See if there is anything helpful n the conversation. Then try to learn from the comments.
Not Made to be The Lone Ranger
Our faith is dependent upon a relationship, a relationship with the Create of all things. We have not been called to this ministry to do it by ourselves. Just like Jesus surrounded himself with disciples, we to must surround ourselves wit the men and woman who get it! Don’t do youth ministry alone! It will burn you out, leaving you to feel like you have failed. Surround yourself with men and women who get youth ministry and are willing to support, encourage, lift up, and stand with you. From the planning team to the small group leaders, you need a team of people who can dedicate themselves to the work that God has called you to! Share your ideas with them. Let them see your heart. Let them in on the plans. And keep them know how much they are valued and needed.
Youth ministry is exciting, but it’s also hard. Don’t allow yourself to get so lost in the idea of doing ministry that you forget you have to actually do ministry. Surround yourself with a team who will do ministry with you.