I was just thinking of some reasons that youth leaders should get out of youth ministry (or should reconsider entering it). Feel free to add or disgree…this list is likely to be non-exhaustive. These are all straight from my own experience or from conversations with other youth leaders, but I’d love to hear about yours.
Believe it or not, some youth leaders view youth ministry as a “placeholder” until they get called up to the “big leagues” of real pastoral ministry. I’d be offended if I weren’t laughing so hard.
2. If you want to be rich.
There are some ways to create extra income as a youth pastor (i.e. speaking at events, selling material, etc.) but that’s not the same as thinking being in youth ministry is your ride to Easy Street. It’s not.
3. If you want to be respected when in conversation with those in corporate jobs.
When I tell people who aren’t in ministry that I’m a fulltime pastor to middle school and high school students, I get a look that’s a combination of “What’s wrong with you?” and “That’s an actual job?” and “Better you than me.” usually immediately followed by awkward silence and an unspoken vow never to speak of it again.
4. If you want the stability that more often comes with a routine/9-5 job.
(Routine? Youth leaders can’t even spell that word. This blog post might be the first time they’ve heard of it.)
5. If you don’t have or have lost your passion for people.
Ministry is all about people. Not projects, or projections, or purposes, or prosperity. It’s all about people. Forget that and it might be time to pack it up. Pronto.
6. If you find yourself irritated when face-to-face interaction pulls you away from project planning or some other such non-personal activity.
Closely related to #5, and more dangerous as your ministry scope grows. I’m in a fairly largish youth ministry and I abhor spreadsheets as much as I always have. I can’t ever forget that no matter what I’m doing at any given time in ministry, the attention and need of a teen trumps it. I hate to admit it, but I’ve actually had teens start a conversation with, “Jerry, I know you’re really busy, but…”
7. If you don’t feel compassion for the hurting.
People all around you are heading into eternity separated from God. People all around you are struggling to see any light in the darkness. People all around you have a story that would break your heart if you were willing to slow down long enough to listen. If you aren’t willing to listen and hurt with them, you might consider looking for a job where that isn’t critical.
8. If you’re searching for fame/notoriety/accolades.
Francis Chan (I know, I know–he’s “famous” in his own right) said, “Fame is the most powerful drug among those in ministry right now.” Getting heard, getting seen, getting “out there” and getting known can be an alluring temptation, especially under the guise of being “more used by God”. (By the way, have you subscribed to jerrythinks.com and have you tweeted to all your followers about me?)
9. If you’re not unmistakably called by God to it.
Okay, this one can sometimes be seen as wispy, undefinable, and subjective. And all I can say is that calling should be verifiable. Those around you who know the Lord and know you should be able to speak to the issue of your calling. Your God-giftedness should speak to the issue of your calling. And given time, the “fruit” of ministry can also serve as something that verifies your calling.
Okay, it’s your turn to fill in number 10. Even if you’re not in youth ministry, you can still share why you’re not or why you think others should think twice before jumping in.