There are tons of things that go into being a Youth Pastor. There are a lot of things parents know, but there are a lot of things that are seldom thought about. Here are 5 things parents do not know about Youth Pastors:
How much we need them in our ministries
Youth Pastors are (should be) constantly encouraging our parents to be involved in our ministry. We always stand at the ready with our “elevator pitch” of why we need them and why they should be present, even if it is in the smallest capacity. In reality, our entire ministry depends on the parents we serve. Every student ministry desperately needs parents to be involved. The truth is, many Youth Pastors are not parents, or at least parents of teens. Even if they are parents and parents of teens, those teens are not “every teen.” The value parents add to a student ministry is immeasurable.
How much time goes into preparing for an event and/or message
Hours are spent preparing for every message, weeks and/or months go into preparing for an event. Youth Pastors often agonize over details of an event, pricing, location, topic, etc. Some events and messages are better than others for sure, but the process can be exhausting. It is easy to not see or realize the effort behind these things in order to influence the lives of the students who will attend and hear. Everything will not be perfect. Something will always go wrong. Some people with little or no investment will be quick to criticize. Most events however, do not just happen. Messages do not just get shared. Behind these are countless hours.
How much we pray and agonize over students & families
Youth Pastors are genuinely burdened for our students and families. Most within our ministry will be unaware of the deep and painful struggles of some we minister too. Regardless, we spend countless hours praying for, thinking of, hurting for, and counseling those in our ministry. For us, Youth Ministry isn’t just on Sunday or Wednesday, or at camp or a retreat. We are constantly before the Lord on behalf of those we serve begging God to do a work in their lives and family. Pleading for healing, restoration, or repentance. Trusting God to safeguard hearts. Asking Him to use them for His glory. Much time is spent praying and agonizing before the Lord on behalf of those we serve.
The toll it can take on our families
No one loves a Youth Pastors family as much as the Youth Pastor (nor should they really). It is easy for those within the ministry to fail to look beyond their own family to the family of the Youth Pastor. Numerous evenings, trips, phone calls, text messages naturally come with the job a Youth Pastor has been called to do. In the midst of all of that, is the battle every Youth Pastor must fight to keep his own family front and center. Children can become Youth Ministry mascots (minus the costumes…well, most of time). Wives can become the “catch-all” for the little stuff that falls through the cracks. Date nights rarely happen because (a) there’s always an event or crisis or (b) a baby sitter can often not be afforded. The amount of burden a Youth Pastor carries can be overwhelming. This can, and often does take its toll on the effectiveness of leading at home. Being a Youth Pastor is not for the weary or faint of heart. Being a Youth Pastor’s family is a calling of a whole different nature.
How lonely ministry can be at times.
In ministry you are constantly surrounded my people. To be honest, most of whom need things from you…hence the “ministry.” This often does not leave a lot of room for deep friendships. Encouragement often comes in the form of, “that was a great message,” and those are sparse in relation to the critics. Every Youth Pastor has heard from very well-meaning people a version of the “when are you going to be a real pastor” or “I can’t wait to see what God does in your ministry one day.” To be completely transparent, it is difficult to describe this loneliness to those outside of ministry. Please, whatever you do, encourage your Youth Pastor and encourage them often. They will appreciate it more than you know.
Now to be clear, we love what we do. We are passionate about seeing God use teens and families. There are so many great things about having our families in and around our ministries. There are few greater joys than praying for our students and families. Being a Youth Pastor is one of the greatest joys of my life. It is not always easy, but it is so worth it.