This year, I’m celebrating 10 years in Student Ministry, and over these past 10 years, I’ve served in a church of 58 members as well one with 58,000 members. And what I’ve discovered is that there are certain disciplines and principles that will make you more successful no matter what size church you’re in. On the other side of that coin, there are certain things you can do that will ensure you become far less effective in doing the job God’s called you to.
Today, I’d like to talk about 10 of those things:
10 Things That Will Make You A Sorry Youth Pastor
1. Be a Know-it-All
Everyone loves a know-it-all! (insert sarcasm here) And Youth Pastors are surprisingly known for having all the answers. After all, we’re the most creative. We’re the ones that are out-of-the-box. We’re young… We’re in touch… We know our way around social media and carry smart phones and iPads… Being a know-it-all isn’t a good thing. Some refer to Youth Pastors as being “20-Stupid” because we are so convinced we have all the answers that we become hardened and unshapable. If you want to increase your success, then get into the habit of surrounding yourself with guys older than you; wiser and more experienced and you’ll be surprised at what you will learn.
2. Hide a Lot
Youth Pastors love to hide and not interact with people around them. We hide from other staff members, we hide from parents… some Youth Pastors even hide from certain students. If you want to become ineffective in your ministry, then become someone who hides instead of engages. When you engage in interpersonal relationships with the people you’re surrounded with, your ministry will begin to thrive.
3. Dress like a Sloppy Teenager
When did Youth Pastors become exempt from professionalism? I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with Youth Pastors that say, “I just can’t get them to respect me… I can’t get them to trust me… I can’t get them behind me…” and they’re oblivious to the fact that they look like a 28-year-old wanna-be-a-Bieber. Someone once told me, “Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.” Hopefully if God’s called you to be a Youth Pastor, you don’t want another job, but you can raise your effectiveness as a ‘Pastor’ if you will first raise your standards on how you conduct & carry yourself.
4. Talk a Lot
The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 5 that if you talk a lot and don’t listen then you’re a fool. That goes for those of us in the Clergy as well. Youth Pastors have to be careful to use their ears more than their mouths. If you will, it will save you a ton of headaches and heartache in the future.
5. Come to Work Late & Make a Habit of Leaving Early
This goes back to professionalism, and it’s really true in any vocation. If you worked at Starbucks and decided to roll in an hour late and leave and hour before everyone else did… you would be fired. There’s no doubt about it! But many times we use our ‘crazy schedules’ as an excuse to be lazy. If you want to be a sorry Youth Pastor, then be lazy.
6. Fly by the Seat of your Pants
One of the quickest paths to failure is the road of no preparation. I remember my first year in ministry waking up on Wednesday morning and randomly opening my Bible to a passage & then writing my message for that evening out of that text. No purpose behind it. No intentionality. It was a lack of planning and because there was no plan, there was little success.
7. Ignore the Chain of Command
One of the quickest ways to burn a bridge is to ignore the chain of command. Ministry gets real hard when you don’t have any friends and nobody trusts you. Therefore, if you want to kill any chance of success in ministry, then begin jumping over the head of your boss and running your mouth to the people above him. Be wise and trust the system. Honor the chain of command!
8. Put other Kids Before Your Own Kids
Here’s what many young guys fail to recognize: if you lose your family, you lose your ministry. God never calls a Pastor to put other people’s kids before his own kids. Your wife is your bride, not your ministry. If you want to lose it all, get that backwards for a while.
9. Don’t Submit to Your Pastor’s Vision or Philosophy of Ministry
Why should I submit to my Pastors vision? After all, he’s a little out of touch and the vision he’s casting out there is ridiculous… Then leave. Leave if you can’t submit to his leadership and vision and philosophy for ministry. You’ll never be successful if you’re dodging his leadership and can’t submit to it. If you want to be successful in your ministry, then don’t just submit to his vision, be a champion for his vision. Be outspoken and supportive of whatever your leadership is driving!
10. Depend on Your Creativity or Personality for your Success & not on the Power of God
We need to remember how unqualified we really are. You may be a great communicator or a relational genius. You may have 8 degrees from great schools and seminaries. You may be a visionary smooth talking drop-dead gorgeous man of the cloth, but as long as you rely on and depend on everything YOU are instead of every part of who HE is… your ministry is going to be ineffective and weak. Great leaders lead from their knees. Great men of God are humble at the feet of Christ. …and great ministries are led by great men who understand that.