I always ask permission before I share with you an e-mail from a fellow youth worker and I’m thankful that I can share this with you. It’s real, it’s raw, and it’s a great reminder to know your priorities and manage your time. Youth ministry never ends—there’s always more to DO. But, a healthy youth ministry is filled with people who understand how to BE.
I’m 41 years old and have been in youth ministry for the better part of the last 20 years and serving at the same church (in youth ministry) for almost 11 years. For the past 4 1/2 years, it has been a full-time church staff position.
Yesterday, I resigned my position. I didn’t quit because I was tired of the complaints from parents, not because of an ungrateful Sr. Pastor, not because I didn’t have any volunteers. I had few complaining parents, a very supportive Sr. Pastor, and for the first time in many years of ministry, one of the best adult leadership teams ever. I resigned because I had been neglecting my family for the biggest part of the last 9 years of my marriage.
My marriage is now suffering terribly. I know that there are probably hundreds or even thousands of youth pastors only one month from this same scenario. My wife cried-out for years, but her cry fell on deaf ears. You see, it’s very easy to continue to chase after “ministry” when it’s successful, growing, fulfilling, and teenagers are coming to know Jesus. After all isn’t that why we’re all in this thing anyway? Wasn’t I just “following the call of God”?
I am extremely honored and consider it a privilege to have served so long in one church (where I will continue to attend). I can’t help but think that the last 10 years of youth ministry could have much more fulfilling and fruitful had I kept my priorities in place.
I write this with the hope that you will share it with others because I can only hope and pray that some struggling youth pastor reads this and considers his/her first, true ministry—the ministry to his/her family. I wish I had realized that God created family before ministers.
I covet your prayers for my family!
In His Service,
[a brother in Christ]
May his honesty and pain be a reminder to us that there are more important things than “doing” ministry. Your students need godly and healthy examples to model their lives after. They need to see caring adults who have lives, loving relationships, and know their priorities. This is a testimony to them! The church where I serve (Saddleback) is getting this message loud and clear from our pastor. He’s been by his wife’s side for three months as she has gone through chemotherapy. He hasn’t preached and he hasn’t been with the congregation, and the people are seeing first-hand that a leader can practice what he preaches. It’s an amazing thing when a man or woman models what truly is important—it’s very attractive.
Ministry opportunities come and go… they’ll always be there. May you find time to reflect on what’s really important in your life and then prove its importance by managing your life around those priorities.