I’ve said it more than once, but it’s not what I mean. I don’t hate teenagers or ministering to them. I can’t speak for you, but here’s what I mean when I say I hate Youth Ministry.
I hate being disrespected
It’s tough at every level of youth ministry; from volunteer to full-time and everywhere in-between. If you love kids, have a vision, and put your all into it, you will be disrespected. Sometimes by your disconnected Sr. Pastor, sometimes by well meaning older saints, and sometimes by the very kids you are trying to minister to. Disrespect is not a Youth Ministry thing, it a life thing, It’s an age thing. It’s a perception thing. You know how you think flipping burgers would be so much better than what you are experiencing right now? Yeah, it would be no time at all before someone disrespected your burger flipping skills.
I hate apathy
When I say I hate youth ministry, I’m really saying, “I hate feeling like I am doing this all alone.” I hate that no one has my passion and love for these kids. Think of it this way, if they already had people that had your love and passion for kids, they wouldn’t need you. Never stop reaching out to adults who could help you. Risk the rejection and go bananas when someone says, “Yes, I’ll help.” Never stop praying to the Lord of the harvest that he would send workers into your harvest field.
I hate church politics
I hate anything that disrupts the flow of ministering to kids. If there’s something going on in the church that seems to be sucking the energy away from the Jesus stuff we should be doing it makes me cranky. It makes me feel sad for God’s church that we have to have power struggles and back biting going on. Then, I remember that these are people. They are no different than the household of David who slaughtered each other for power, money, and control. It happens everywhere. Deal with it through prayer and protect the kids as much as possible.
I hate my own insecurities
I hate youth ministry when I doubt myself. When I think I am not good enough and not up to the task. If you are reading this, and you are in your first church, welcome to the ministry. Our insecurities are just a sign of our great need of God and His mercy. We cannot sow anything without him. When you’re feeling like you are not up to the task, it’s ok, you’re probably not, but God is. Lean on Him more than you ever have and let your insecurities be swallowed up in His grace.
I hate that I am not more successful
This one is a thorn in the flesh for me. I’ve never been a 48-year-old youth pastor before and my metrics are way off as to where I should be and when I should be there. But, it doesn’t matter how old you are, how many show up to the youth meeting, or if you have this grand dream in your head that is not meeting a specific timeline. You are where you are right now. That is where you are supposed to be. Success is what you are right now, not what you are going to be. How do I know this? We had our college and career meeting the other night and one student show up. My wife and I told her she was not obligated to stay, but she stayed, talked, and watched TV, with a couple of “old people.” At that moment, because our home was a sanctuary and not a meeting place, we were successful.
Do you hate youth ministry? No. Do you hate your job? Sometimes.
As they say, it’s the journey that matters and I wouldn’t trade mine for yours for…well let’s not say a million dollars, because on some days I might just take it; but know this, the grass is not greener anywhere. Love who you are and what you do for as long as you can.
PAUL TURNER is a long-time youth worker, speaker, and blogger of all things youth ministry. He’s the youth pastor at Pleasant Grove Assembly in Birmingham, AL and writes regularly at THEDISCIPLEPROJECT.NET.