Tag Archives: burnout

When it’s no longer any fun

Being in Ministry can be rough. I initially started this post out as being a Youth Pastor is tough, but having grown up the son of a Pastor and a brother of a Missionary, Youth Pastor, Children’s Pastor, and someone very active in leadership with MOPS, I know that its not just Youth Ministry that is tough.

My heart has been breaking for Ministers the last few days / weeks as I read more and more blog posts about issues in the church, most that don’t even necessarily come from those we minister to, but from those who are supposed to be our partners.

One of my favorite quotes from Mike Yaconelli goes something like ” I am in awe of youth workers, and I think Jesus is too. I just wish the church felt the same.”

I remember in college and a lot of youth ministry books I have read, they always deal with facing the challenges that come with working with parents, because just about every youth worker, I’m sure, has dealt with this.

But the reality for today, I feel, is that the greater challenges come from the Sr. Pastor, or board of Elders. Any number of blogs could be found dealing with the frustrations of Youth Pastors who for whatever reason can’t seem to find harmony with their superiors. And it breaks my heart. I know it breaks God’s heart, too, because this is not what he intended “ministry” to look like.

We are supposed to be able to lock arms with our superiors to fight evil in our communities. We are supposed to be able to be partners in working to bring about Life-change in our neighborhoods. We are supposed to be able to work together.

But the painful truth is that many churches in this country aren’t able to.

And I don’t think there is any “across the board” solution other than deep soul searching by both parties, and an honest conversation with God.

Because in some cases, the Pastor may be the one holding it all back with his arrogance or pride, being set in his ways.

Still, in others, the Youth Pastor really is just a young renegade who saw how one church was doing things and now thinks that if a church isn’t doing it that same way, they are wrong and old fashioned.

Whatever it may be though, many of our peers our hurting. If you are one of those youth workers lucky enough to love your church where you are serving, you have no problem calling it home, and you love working with your superiors, then be thankful for it, and pray for our comrades.

If you are one of those hurting, who has reached the point where Ministry isn’t fun anymore, its not worth it anymore, you know your called to serve but you can’t serve where you are for much longer because it is sucking the life out of you, I’d love to talk, I’d love to connect in some way and share stories and hear your frustrations. Because honestly, sometimes just letting them off our chest to someone else who can relate makes it possible to stay another week, believe me I have been there before.

But know this – God has a plan. I know we all know this. I know we tell our students this constantly. But we have to hold on to that hope that even in the messed up circumstances Youth Pastors can sometimes be in, God is at work.


Under Pressure

Have you ever gotten lost in the pressures and demands on us as Youth Pastors? Pressure is EVERYWHERE. A favorite professor of mine used to say “Being a Pastor is a much more stressful job than an airplane pilot. If an airplane pilot makes a mistake, a hundred people or so die. If a Pastor makes a mistake, people can go to Hell.”

And though there are things that could be argued about that statement, sure, the point of it still is there. We have a burden on us that can weigh us down if we dwell on it. So dwelling on it can be bad, but the opposite is just as true. If you never consider it, your ministry is pointless.

Then there here is the enormous pressure on Youth Pastors to be Great. Its an awesome pressure, we should always strive to be great. But sometimes it has its downsides, too. We try to copy what that awesome youth group down the street is, only to discover it wont work in our context, or it can’t work here. Or we put in so many office hours our personal lives disintegrate.

We get this pressure from everywhere, from our superiors, from other Youth Pastors, from Parents, and we feel like we aren’t quite every reaching their expectations, and so to admit failure to them could cost us our job. To not appear as being great, thats risky, I get it.

But be the change agent. Learn to say No and Learn to admit your mistakes, stop the cycle.

Your supervisors? They want you to be real. They want you to admit you make mistakes, because odds are they already see them. Other Youth Pastors? You don’t need to impress them with the numbers you think you have in your ministry. Whenever a Youth Pastor tells me the size of their group, I subtract 10% because I know how we all are. Parents? For the most part, they trust you and respect you, even when you don’t feel like they do. They want you to succeed. But success comes through failures more often than not.

How many people are bandwagon Yankees fans when they are in the world series? Not a lot. But how many people were Red Sox fans in 2004? Just about everyone. Because everyone wanted to see them succeed.

So let this be an encouragement to you. Be Great in the Lord, not in yourself. Succeed for the Lord, not for anyone else. Seek him and the rest will fall into place. At the end of the day, he is the only one whom it matters if you have pleased. Just live with that pressure, the rest will fade away after.

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