Unfortunately it’s a story I have seen repeated all too often.
Youth pastor- you think taking on more opportunities will lead to greater role and possibly a promotion. More likely it will lead to weaker ministry, extreme fatigue, complaints and possibly burn-out.
Here’s the pattern… The gifted energetic Youth Pastor arrives at his or her church and helps establish some great (needed) changes in the student ministry.
- He knows the golden rule says, “don’t change anything for several months.” But we all know that this is impossible; but the good ones only make minor changes otherwise their uphill battle gets too steep.
- She knows that establishing relationships with students, staff, parents and the congregation (all at the same time) is needed to build an effective base for long-term ministry. It’s difficult, but she is able to establish a good balance.
- Though tempted to satisfy the older (louder) students, he makes the right call and asks a volunteer already known by those students to really build into the upperclassmen while he builds a base with the younger students.
He (or she) was hired to be the Youth Pastor. Her (or his) job description calls for her to shepherd the teens in middle school and high school. And thus far, he/she has done a GREAT job!
BUT THEN IT HAPPENS!
The youth pastor begins to graduate students to a non-existent ministry of the church (college/young adult). Or, the youth director is extremely gifted in music and the elders have seen how students and adult leaders have responded in worship. Or, quite possibly, the student ministry pastor has shown his gift of teaching during fill-in times for the main service and is now being asked to preach quite-often.
It’s fantastic to be wanted.
- You’re tired of graduated students needing to go over to “that church” to be in the college group- so you volunteer to start the Young Adults Ministry.
- You love playing the guitar and there are a number of gifted students in your group that you can get upfront with you- so you accept the invitation to take on main-service worship once (or twice… or three times) a month!
- You LOVE God’s Word, and quite honestly, you may want to be a lead pastor someday- so taking on a sermon every fifth or sixth week would help you.
- You discovered in a counseling meeting with a student that the problem was not the teen, rather the disconnect between the parents. So you begin meeting with them to help them. You’ve seen progress- so you commit to once a week (but then word gets out and more requests come as well).
THAT JUST HAPPENED!
Each of these areas are great investments and it is NOT WRONG for you to take any (or even all) of them on as long as EACH of the following takes place:
1. If married, your spouse is onboard with the changes (and you’ve both prayed about it).
2. All of the church leadership is made aware of the new roles you’re playing so that there is not confusion or accusation of overstepping bounds.
3.Your job description is updated to reflect these new expectations.
4. Your compensation is changed or it is recognized that it will be reviewed at such-and-such time in the near future. -OR- someone is hired in youth ministry to replace the hours you’ll be giving up (because after all, they did hire you to work with the youth).
5. Parents, adult leaders and students are invited into the communication and celebration regarding these changes (otherwise the only thing they see is that you’re paying more attention to other ministries, and neglecting student ministry).
If all of these (and probably a few others) don’t happen, it is best for you to keep your focus on what you were hired to do!