Getting started in youth ministry can be exciting, scary, and at times frustrating and discouraging. But I would like to share my experiences and offer some advice to those just starting out in youth ministry. While some may say I am still there myself, my focus is on those who feel called into ministry and are looking to land their very first job in youth ministry.
I was in your shoes only six months earlier. Finding myself at the end of my first year in public education, I learned my hands had been tied by the educational system way too much to make the difference I wanted to in the lives of the students I served. Feeling a call to ministry, I began to seek opportunities in the church. After many resumes, countless hours searching, and many nights simply feeling inadequate, I began to second guess my calling. I began to sink into depression thinking, “How could I risk my family’s security like this?” In the midst of that God taught me something I believe every youth worker should understand. I was trying to find MY position and not seeking GOD’S placement for my life. Through this God showed me a few things about preparing for youth ministry.
#1 Focus on the source of your passion—God the Father!
When we take the focus off of our plans and our dreams and put them on the source of those things, we become more obedient to God’s plan and stop relying on our strengths, passions, and abilities. After all, where do our passions and abilities come from? Not to mention…without our connection to the vine we will spiritually wither and stop bearing fruit!
#2 Prepare—This goes for your heart, and your ministry.
We should focus more on our heart condition and prayerfully develop a ministry plan to guide our ministry structure as we transition into the role God leads us to fill. Also, being able to provide a plan during interviews shows your passion, your intentionality, and your work ethic. Church leaders want to see those things in youth leaders.
#3 Pray—Seek God’s will, and not your own. Even if at times it stresses you out. Christ did!
Finally, Pray! Allow God to lead you in where you should be. This is so important. God has already laid out a plan for your ministry. There is someone who needs to hear your message, and if you don’t seek God’s guidance in choosing your position, you may miss being able to impact that person.
I say all of this to encourage you. I understand now that my time “in the bull pen” so to speak was God-ordained to teach me to rely on him, and not on my own abilities. Stay encouraged! The worst thing in the world is for us to get discouraged and give up at the beginning. That’s what Satan wants. If this is you, contact area youth ministers for encouragement. Most are more than willing to provide guidance, encouragement, and even coaching! That’s what we do for students and what we should be willing to do for one another! Above all: Stay focused on the Father and seek HIS will, not your own.