I’ve just returned from one of my favorite conferences of the year-Youth Specialties’ National Youth Workers Convention (the first of 3). This conference is much more than a teaching opportunity for me, it’s a time to come face-to-face with so many youth ministry friends. I love it! And yet, I found it interesting that during many conversations, I heard tired, wounded, sad, and broken hearts.

There’s a lot of pain out there.
Tom is misunderstood by his senior pastor.
Carla was fired and still doesn’t know why.
Rick has volunteers who are gossiping about him and when he confronts them, they deny it.
Diane wants to change some things about her program but can’t find support anywhere.

The list could go on and on…these examples barely scratch the surface of what’s happening in the trenches of youth ministry.

What would you tell me about your current situation? Is there a ministry pain that consumes your thoughts, weighs on your spirit, or grieves your soul? I have one I could write about…but, sharing it with 20,000+ youth workers isn’t the right forum. I write this because if you’re in a “down season” right now, I can relate.

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If you’re not in a “season” where you’re being drained by something or someone I want to encourage you to:

  1. Praise the Lord
  2. Pray for our youth ministry friends who are really hurting
  3. Prepare for your “down season”…it’s probably right around the corner…lurking and waiting for the worst possible time to arrive on the scene of your life

If your “issue” could have made the list with Tom, Carla, Rick, or Diane (or made theirs appear minor), I want to encourage you to:

  1. Not give up, even though that seems so right
  2. Give time to your heart, even though that advice seems so trite
  3. Share your hurts with a trustworthy friend, even though it seems like a waste of time. You are not alone in your pain.

You and I belong to a community of youth workers who all struggle. No one escapes pain-free from youth ministry (if they’re really honest). Trust me…there are thousands of youth workers, ranging from 18 to 81 who represent every denomination you can think of, who are feeling misunderstood, over-worked, under-appreciated, and are questioning their call. You may not see them, know them, or hear their story…but they’re out there.

At the same time, there are some within our youth ministry community who have hit their stride. They are riding high! They are pumped-up that God is using them beyond their imagination. They are blessed, energized, and motivated to keeping pointing teenagers to Jesus. You may not see them, know them, or hear their story…but they’re out there too. That’s so great!

Next time you see another youth worker, take some time to listen their story. Recognize their condition-either on top of the piles or under them. Pause. Smile. Pray. Look in their eyes and thank God for that person. We don’t need to be competing with other youth workers, we need to be cheering each other on. We’re on the same team. We may have different gifts, skills, personalities, and churches, but we’re on the same team. We may minister in different settings, denominations, and cultures, but we’re on the same team. Teammates build up their teammates. Let’s strengthen each other. Everyone wins when we do that. The only loser is the enemy.

We are called to serve…and when we serve one another in the youth ministry community I believe it makes God pleased. When you serve a fellow youth worker you never know how it could alter the course of their life.

And they began to argue among themselves as to who would be the greatest in the coming Kingdom. Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men order their people around, and yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you, those who are the greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant” (Luke 22: 24-26).

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