Five Secrets Youth Pastors Won't Openly Share
Do Youth Pastors Have Secrets Or Are We Just Ignoring The Signs?
Youth ministry is a satisfying life calling at it's best. At its worst, it can be a thankless job that leaves us misunderstood, burned out, and scarred. I would like to put it out there that Youth Pastors have no secrets, only deep felt needs that go unrecognized and the church potentially ignores. Most Youth Pastors do not wear their hearts on their sleeves. We don't like being whiney and needy. We fully believe God will meet all our needs, we just don't believe the rest of the church believes it's part of the plan to meet those needs.
I call these "secrets" not because Youth Pastors are intentionally keeping information from people, but because they just won't publicly talk about them, even with their Pastor. Most Youth Pastors (at least the male ones) will not talk about these secrets in the church, because it would be considered a sign of weakness if they did. Youth Pastoring is a middle management job where we get hit with both ends of the stick. We get it from kids, parents, pastors, etc. The only other people we can talk to, if you're married, are our wives (and they take the brunt of it, I know), other youth workers, and of course God. Secrets suck, that's why I'm letting them out.
Don't Keep Your Opinion A Secret - Let It Out!
Do Youth Pastors have"secrets" or does the congregation just ignore the signs?
They = Me
I have kept and shared these secrets at one time or another. If you are a youth pastor reading this, hang in there.
They Find it Hard To Find, Make, and Keep Adult Friends
Will You Be-Friend Them?
Youth Pastors spend a lot of time with students. They teach them on Wednesday night, teach their Sunday School class, and go on all the trips. Youth Pastors need "adult time". Having adult friends in the church is critical to being a healthy youth pastor and being a healthy human being. This is especially true for single youth pastors, male or female.Too much "kid time" can lead to emotional and spiritual growth issues that can weaken relationships in the church. With all this at risk, how can we help them become confident and whole in their relationships?
Here are a few ideas:
Pray for them daily (especially if you have kids in their ministry)
Invite them out or over for dinner (spending time just eating and talking is healthy)
Take them to a ball game or share your hobby with them. (this could be a game, a sport, or club you belong to)
Take time to be friends with your youth pastor and you'll fine out that they're not THAT bad.
Is Your Soul Hungry? - Books That Feed The Youth Ministers Soul
They Want To Minister To The Whole Family
Will You Allow Them To?
Calling ourselves youth pastors is like calling ourselves firemen. Firemen don't just fight fires, they train others in fire safety, keep abreast of new fire fighting technology, and keep their fire trucks shiny. There is more to the heart of a youth pastor than just playing games and taking trips. Most youth pastors want to minister to the whole family through prayer, fellowship, and just listening when parents have needs or simply run out of answers. In some cases, it is too late buy the time a family comes to a pastor and says "Fix this". It's not impossible, but it casts the youth pastor into the role of miracle worker (or fireman, Help Fire!), which set up a false expectations. That is where the disappointment comes in.
If you want to avoid being disappointed with your youth pastor:
Go to those parents meetings and see where you can help (or where they can help you)
Give them a heads up when there is tremor in your family instead of waiting for the earthquake.
Share your hopes and dreams for your kids and ask your youth pastor to help you achieve them.
Doing these simple things will expand your youth pastors role, give them a great idea of his or hers importance within the church , and may help them grow up a bit.
Are You A Youth Pastor? - Which Secret Are You Keeping?
I Have A Secret
They Are Going Through Personal Struggles
Will You Walk With Them?
Church has become a very consumeristic place. It's where people come to "get what they need" or in Christianese "get fed' and go home. What many people do not realize, is that the youth pastor was probably hired on a promise. Like many businesses, youth pastors are hired cheap and if they can stick around long enough, their pay goes up. In a perfect world this works, but alas, it is not a perfect world. Money is only one of many personal struggles a youth pastor can go through.
Here are my top three personal struggle for youth works in no particular order
1. Money- some youth pastors come into a position with money problems, and not just a lack of money, but a lack of knowledge of how to handle their money.
2.Marriage- Everything is not as it seems. When both spouses work at or in the church, they usually come home and vent about the same people. This is super toxic for both the marriage and the ministry. Their wife maybe struggling with fitting in and her husband (youth pastor in this case) deals with the pressures of the Pastor and other forces of nature. This does not make for good dinner conversations most of the time, and stresses their family out.
3. Personal Sin- The youth pastor at your church maybe dealing with sin. This could be anything from a heart filled with bitterness to pornography. It's critical that your Youth Pastor have a safety valve where they can let off steam or a safe place where they can confess their sin without the worry of losing his or her job. Remember, they lead students, a healthy Youth Pastor will last much longer than a sick one.
The Apostle Paul said, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.". So, the next time you are at church, ask your Youth Pastor how they are doing, and mean it.
They Need More Affirmation Than You Think
Will You Cheer Them On?
Telling a youth pastor, especially young one's, they are doing a good job is like water to thirsty man. Youth Pastor's have to navigate a path of challenges between Pastor's, parents, events, students, family, and more,that can lead to deflated egos and second guessing their calling. What can we do to pick them up and keep them confident as they work with our kids?
Send them an email of encouragement
Say something good about them in the next Parents meeting
Brag on your Facebook status about the youth program.
Give your youth pastor a shout out on Twitter
Volunteer for an event or youth meeting.
Honor them on Pastor Appreciation Day (usually in October)
Whatever way you choose to encourage them, it will boost their spirits and have them operate out of a place of confidence rather than a place of uncertainty.
If we knew each other's secrets, what comforts we should find"- John Churton Collins
They Think About Quitting More Often Than You Think
Will You Fight For Them?
Many of the secrets, and the solutions I have offered, are to help you keep your youth pastor from thinking about quitting, Why? Because, to me, a youth pastor is like a school teacher or coach, because their influence can last generations, if we want it to. Many youth pastors quit too soon because of the secrets I've shared above. Many youth pastors simply wither away from the inside out because of keeping these secrets.
So, do you want to keep your youth pastor around longer? Do you want to create a legacy of reaching the youth of your city and a dynamic youth program? Then create a "no secrets" policy in your church. Be the tip of the spear for all your pastors from Lead Pastor to Children's pastor and every one in-between and you will hear the words "I Quit" less often.