It has been a crazy week of ministry, I am sure you can relate. It was a week with both an extreme failure and an extreme victory; then sprinkled with a little bit of everything in between. As I reflect back over this week I can’t help but ask myself why I am in the position I am in. What is my motivation, what is my goal, and how do I define for myself what success is. Am I working to be the ‘perfect youth pastor’; or for something else?
The problem with the idea of ‘the perfect youth pastor’ is this, there is no such thing! That’s the problem, it’s just an idea, and everyone has their own opinion of what the perfect youth pastor is. Your senior pastor has their idea, each church lay leader has their idea, parents have another idea, each student could offer their opinion, and even the church janitor would give another view. As I think about all these different expectations and the effort and time it would take to even come close to meeting half of them, I am tempted to start writing my resignation letter instead of this article. And I haven’t even started to look at the expectations I have put on myself.
Wow, I am exhausted just writing about it, not to mention trying to live up to it. I realize though how easy it is to fall into this thinking. Just today in a matter of hours I went from dealing with parents crying because their student has entered quickly into the ‘I am 18 and ruining my life as fast as I can’ phase and asking me to fix it. To a few hours later sitting in Starbucks with a leadership student and helping them lead a friend to Christ they have been praying for for years. Youth ministry can be a crazy roller coaster ride of ups and downs. And if my goal is to hit my expectation, or someone else’s expectation of the perfect youth pastor, I want off of this ride sooner than later.
But, as I look at the greatest commandments and the great commission, I can see God’s expectation of what success is. God’s idea of success is having the five purposes fulfilled in my life and in other’s lives through the church. If I am pursuing the five purposes in my ministry, and not someone’s vague expectations, then suddenly success is clear. Success for me is being faithful to the call God has placed on my life. I can not make every student in our youth group make the right decision every time, I can not make someone open their life to God, I can not do any of these things. I can not claim the failure as mine, and I can not claim the victory as mine either. Only God can give someone salvation, only the student can make the decision for their life. As a youth worker, my job is to be a faithful servant of God, follow His leading, and then let Him work.
2 Timothy 4:2 – 5 (NIV) Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
No matter how much the expectations of me change; God’s word, and the five purposes that come from it, remains constant. As long as I stay faithful to God, His purposes, and His calling on my life, I know I can meet His expectation of faithful servant, which is much easier to accomplish than perfect youth pastor!