Lately my heart has been pulled to one position in the church. This person is often full of heart for ministry; a position that is necessary but so often left out; overworked and underpaid. If you feel like I’m talking about you, most likely you’re a part-time youth worker. If I could imagine the heart of the church speaking directly to you, it’d go something like this:
Dear Part-time Youth Worker,
We don’t get the chance to talk very often so I wanted to write this letter to say a few things I should have said long ago and much more often. We’re both so busy all the time. You’re busy doing everything you do, and I’m busy being the church. I wish we had more time to connect.
I want to tell you how much I appreciate you not taking a raise the past few years. I know we’ve talked about you going full-time as the church grows, but we’ve really needed to focus our funding in other places. I can understand if you feel unappreciated, but please know that you are appreciated, even if it’s not shown in your pay. You’ve never pushed for a raise and you’ve continued to work at the coffee shop to supplement your youth worker pay. Your workday starts at 4:30 a.m. on the weekdays so you can be a youth worker on the weekends. You’ve shown me what real sacrifice and commitment look like.
You’ve been a champion during every transition, no matter how long they last. I know it must be hard to understand why I’ve never offered you the Director Position when I’ve trusted you to lead us through months and months of transition as the Interim Director. I’m blown away that you’ve chosen not to focus on why I don’t trust you enough to let you lead permanently. Instead, you’ve kept your trust securely placed in the hands of God. You demonstrate deep trust in our God and true humility. Thank you for showing me servant leadership.
I’ve never expected you to consistently work over your 25 hours a week, but I’m so thankful I don’t have to explain to you that ministry never stops. It’s not something you can just turn off when you’ve worked your hours for the week. Week after week, month after month, you’ve gone above and beyond. You get here early and you stay late. You go on youth retreats for days at a time and still show up for a full week of work so the ministry doesn’t skip a beat. You define hard work. I should tell you to go home more often, I should make sure you take days off more often, I’m sorry that I haven’t. You deserve the rest and time off to refuel.
I love you for your passion and commitment to see our children find their identity in Jesus. I admire you for the sacrifices you’ve been willing to make. The truth is, you are the heart of our community and I am not the church without you. I know you don’t hear these words enough, Thank you. Thank you for staying on the path of youth ministry God has called you to. Thank you for making me who I am.
I was a part-time youth worker for many years. I know how hard you work, how unappreciated you feel at times. I know what it’s like to have burn out lurking right around the corner. So to the part-timers reading this blog today, I pray you will take a moment right now to breath in the love God has for you. You give God a great deal of joy. Please take time for yourself. Refuel and rest. Know that you matter a great deal to the church and have eternal value and worth.
P.S. – Simply Youth Ministry has a great resource for you on artfully balancing career, family, and passion for ministry. Check out Part-time Youth Ministry Full-Time Heart by Jeremiah and Sarah Isley!