When you think youth ministry is easy… think again.
Youth ministry is not easy. It’s not glamorous. It’s hard work. It’s 24/7 work. It required dedication, creativity, patience and lots and lots of time. And it is not for everyone.
Just because you love teens, doesn’t make you a great youth ministry worker. Just because you are a mom or a dad (yes I went there and no I am not pin pointing one parent, but as a generality), doesn’t make you a good ministry worker.
In fact, they can be the worst… Not because of a lack of dedication, but because their presence can squelch their child’s ability to admit fault, admit sin and correct their behavior. And no, you child is not different or so special that your presence will not deter them. I too had my mom in youth ministry. I loved her there. She was great for trips because I never ran out of money! But there were times I was afraid to openly admit fault because of knowing she was watching. That doesn’t mean I continued to live in sin–because I had great ministry leaders who kept me accountable–but it meant that some alter calls that were meant for me, didn’t include me. I cannot fault her for that though, she was very impactful in my friends lives and in my own life. So I thank her for being there. Back to my point–your child is not unique so that they would be exempt from this.
Just because you are the correct gender in a church needing your gender as a youth leader, doesn’t make you a good youth ministry worker. Loving God and being called to teens is what makes you a good ministry worker. Notice what I did there? AND being CALLED to teens. Being called to set the bar for them in spirituality, truth, purity, language, actions, dress, dedication, prayer, love, relationships, and in every aspect of life. Being a youth ministry leader is willingly putting yourself up for criticism everyday.
Even in the last year my intentions have been criticized, but that doesn’t change that my actions and my words were not geared towards keeping myself and my witness pure to them. Granted some have been led astray and I work daily to prove to them that I am who I am and not who others have said that I am. I wish I could shout from the root tops how important it is to be an example for teens–especially in how you present yourself. I’ve seen the WORST gossipers come from misguided youth leader wannabes. Their hearts are there, but their execution is way off base. Being cool and being well-liked are just PART of what makes a youth leader effective. Seeing Jesus lived out is more important that being popular–it was true when we were in high school and it’s true now. Be Jesus and let the rest fall into place. Teens are not stupid. They can smell a fake, but that doesn’t mean they wont still want to be the fake’s friend. Because the fake is popular and the fake is cool, but the fake is surface level with Jesus and Jesus wants us to be deeper than that. Jesus called us to be deeper than that–he called us to be a light and a true example and to teach those who come after us in the right ways.
But I wouldn’t trade my time in youth ministry for anything.
I wouldn’t trade:
shaving cream fights in the hills of Pennsylvania,
late night texts asking for scripture to get through the night,
caroling with 6 girls I just met crammed into my car,
giving up every Friday night for youth, every Sunday afternoon in the Spring for Fine Arts and one Saturday a month for Events,
teaching high school Juniors how to cook a pancake (and not a goo-filled pseudo pancake),
waking over 20+ people up with my house fire alarm because it goes off every time I cook and I forgot the fan,
dressing up like 54 cows and stampeding the local Chick-Fil-A on Cow Day
or anything else for anything.
I love teens. I love helping young people find their calling in life, even if that means I never get to sit at home on a Friday night and fuss wiht my husband over what kind of pizza to order or who is going to get up to put the movie on. Because in the long run, those teenage lives are more important than my social life.