“You do what?”
“That must be nice to play all day.”
“So you only work like 4 hours a week?”
“You went to college for that?”
“But you’re going to become a real pastor in a few years, right?”
These are some of the responses people give me when I tell them, “I’m a youth pastor.” Just by some of the typical responses you can certainly see how people view youth ministry in general: a job that is light on work and heavy on fun. Which certainly can be true. I have a great time with my students.
But it is not all about the fun for me. Youth ministry extends far beyond the visible portions of the ministry. Things like youth worship, small groups, camps & mission trips are just the tip of the iceberg in keeping a healthy youth ministry running. Countless other hours are spent in sermon prep, relationship building/accountability with leaders, counseling sessions with students/parents, countless meetings, etc. Being a youth pastor can entail more work and less worldly acclaim than any of us could have ever anticipated. So why go into youth ministry?? Here’s a few reasons why I do what I do:
1) Students are at a vital time in their spiritual life
I was saved at 15 years old through God’s work through a faithful youth pastor and the students of that ministry that were heavily invested in sharing the gospel with me. So many other friends in the church that are my age share a similar story. There are a number of statistics out there, but the vast majority of current adults actively involved in church came to a saving knowledge of Christ before age 18. Teenagers are at a vital age. Scripture points to this fact as well:
Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6
2) To bring a message of hope to a generation in despair
Growing up, I struggled deeply with my identity. I was born without arms and had difficulty trying to build relationships with other teens. I was different and struggled to live in spite of that. However, after becoming a Christian I started to understand that I was fearfully and wonderfully made by God. My identity did not come from who I was but rather it came from who Christ is. I want students to see their hope does not come from what they do but what Christ did.
3) The only job I know that your wife gets to do with you.
My wife Heather is my best friend. We do a lot of things together, including her serving alongside me in our youth ministry. She provides artistic insight, oversight of our girls’ ministry, a sounding board to bounce ideas off of & she is not afraid to speak the truth to me when I may be falling short of the leader God has called me to be. She is such a blessing to me that I love being able to incorporate her into what I do. Proverbs says it right:
Who can find a capable wife? She is far more precious than jewels. ~ Proverbs 31:10
4) It’s a calling
I love serving the body of Christ by ministering to students. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I love the fun stuff: preaching, going on retreats, seeing students give their lives to Christ/submitting to a call to ministry. I also don’t mind the not so fun stuff that comes with the job. That’s the nature of ministry: it’s not about what you want. It is about what God wants & His glory. To see His work in the lives of students is priceless. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.