“Are you serious!?”
“I think I own one…”
These are all comments I hear when I tell my youth ministry friends that yes, indeed, I wear a suit on Sundays. Morning and night.
Yup, it’s true. It’s 2012 and I wear a suit every Sunday. You know what else? I wear khakis on Wednesday nights.
No blue jeans. No t-shirts. (Well, on Wednesday nights I break those out. It’s because it has the logo of the program printed on it.)
WHY!? (I hear you laughing at your computer monitor right now.)
It’s not because I’m a backwards-thinking youth minister. It’s not because all my students come dressed in ties and dresses on Wednesday nights and shun all things casual. It’s also not because I think I just look awesome in my suit—well, I don’t look that bad…
The reason I wear a suit on Sundays and khakis on Wednesday is very simple: My pastor asks me to.
“But you’re missing your opportunity to relate to the kids!”
Really? I have to wear jeans with holes and flip-flops on Sunday to relate to kids? Nope. I have to relate to kids to relate to kids. They see past my suit. They can tell whether I care about them genuinely even when I’ve got my collar buttoned up. I can have conversations with them in a tie. It’s no big deal. And it shouldn’t be. We preach to our kids that clothes don’t matter. I can take a dose of our own medicine.
“But they will think you’re stuck up or not willing to talk to them! They’ll run from you!”
You know, I’ve never had a kid avoid me on Sunday morning In all the time I’ve been at this church, no kid has looked me in the eye, saw my suit-coat, and then turned tail and run. Now they probably assume I’m the youth minister because I’m the ONLY one in a suit in our entire area upstairs, but they haven’t run. Not because of the suit at least.
“Well, you should at least push back against your pastor’s ridiculous request!”
You know what? I’ve got other hills that are much more important. I’d rather fight other battles.
Here’s the deal. I think some youth ministers believe they are God’s gift to the church and can do whatever they please. I had that mentality coming in. I thought I knew all the answers. I found out something important though: I’m not God and I’m not the pastor of this church. I’m not the head guy and I have no desire to be. So instead of gripping, complaining, and changing into a polo when the pastor is off on vacation, I wear a suit.
We love to quote this verse when it comes to people not following our lead, but shouldn’t youth pastors take this verse to heart when it comes to following the leadership of their pastor?
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watchover your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
I’m blessed to serve under a pastor who’s been in the ministry for over 40 years. I can safely assume he has a pretty good idea of what he’s doing. He’s asked me to wear a suit, and so I do. I think a lot more youth ministers (and church staff) would be happier if they stopped fighting battles that really aren’t important and came together to serve God’s people.
Maybe you have a battle you’re facing? Maybe it has to do with something completely unrelated to your dress code. It’s between what your pastor is asking you to do and what you think is best. My words of advice:
1. Go with it for a season. Your pastor is the head guy for a reason. Take him at his word and try what he’s asking you to with a joyful heart.
2. If after a time, you have proof that it’s not working (not that you don’t like it, but that the results are not what you both had anticipated), then approach your pastor about it.
3. If he says keep doing it, go with it. If he gives you the opportunity to change it, give him your ideas and the reasons you think it’ll work.
4. Pray. Pray about every aspect of it. Most importantly, though, pray that your heart will be in the right place when dealing with your pastor.
I got off my high horse and put on my tie.
Let me encourage you to do what your pastor tells you. You might find out he knows what he’s talking about. And if it involves dressing up more than anyone else in your church, just suit up.