Youth Pastors Emotional Health: Consumed by Anger in Youth Ministry

It’s amazing to me as I talk to Youth Pastors to really just see how prevalent depression is in Youth Ministry.

For whatever reason, it would appear to be true that working in Youth Ministry can be a very depressing thing to do, yet at the same time, is such a joy bringing calling.

I stumbled on this quote again that challenged me a lot last year when I was going through some dark times.

“Anger in particular seems close to a professional vice in the contemporary ministry.Pastors are angry at their leaders for not leading and at their followers for not following. They are angry at those who do not come to church for not coming and angry at those who do come for coming without enthusiasm. They are angry at their families, who make them feel guilty, and angry at themselves for not being who they want to be. This is not an open, blatant, roaring anger, but an anger hidden behind the smooth word, the smiling face, and the polite handshake. It is a frozen anger, an anger which settles into a biting resentment and slowly paralyzes a generous heart. If there is anything that makes the ministry look grim and dull, it is this dark, insidious anger in the servants of Christ.”

– Henri J.M. Nouwen, “The Way of the Heart” 

 You may be in a dark season of Youth Ministry right now, or maybe you just came out of it. Either way, it can be far too easy to to begin the healing process without dealing with the underlying issues, Anger in the heart.

What makes you Angry in Youth Ministry?

8 Comments

  1. There is a line above that sums up a common one for me, we get angry when people dont come. I always try and make Youth Group about the students that are there, but still get disappointed with the ones that aren't when they have no good reasons. This is more disappointment with them, but anger at myself for not having a good enough ministry that draws them to come.
    • Totally understandable Brendan, and totally relatable. How much pressure do we put on ourselves after students don't show up for a while. We need to make church a priority for students, but we shouldn't kill ourselves with work and self criticism when it doesn't happen.
  2. There is a line above that sums up a common one for me, we get angry when people dont come. I always try and make Youth Group about the students that are there, but still get disappointed with the ones that aren't when they have no good reasons. This is more disappointment with them, but anger at myself for not having a good enough ministry that draws them to come.
    • Totally understandable Brendan, and totally relatable. How much pressure do we put on ourselves after students don't show up for a while. We need to make church a priority for students, but we shouldn't kill ourselves with work and self criticism when it doesn't happen.
  3. Great post, Ill have to check out that book. And what gets me angry is parents that expect the Youth Pastors to be the primary Spiritual teacher for their students. It makes me angry when students think this way too.
  4. Great post, Ill have to check out that book. And what gets me angry is parents that expect the Youth Pastors to be the primary Spiritual teacher for their students. It makes me angry when students think this way too.
  5. I've only recently begun to wrestle with this for myself. I found myself needing to be away from the very people that I was serving because I was indeed angry with them. I think it came out of high expectations being unmet, hard work being unrecognized, disappointment and impatience with repeated mistakes, messed up priorities, etc. We have such high hopes in our vocation and when we don't see anything that looks like good fruit , we can become angry - with people, with God, with ourselves.What's the answer? Do we lower our expectations? Do we stop working hard? Do we build in huge margins of error and call it the people factor? Do we grow bitter and sarcastic? All are options...Personally, I've begun asking God to heal my brokenness, teach me how to love His people, and to give me the strength to do so one day at a time. How's it going? Today, it's going good.
  6. I've only recently begun to wrestle with this for myself. I found myself needing to be away from the very people that I was serving because I was indeed angry with them. I think it came out of high expectations being unmet, hard work being unrecognized, disappointment and impatience with repeated mistakes, messed up priorities, etc. We have such high hopes in our vocation and when we don't see anything that looks like good fruit , we can become angry - with people, with God, with ourselves.What's the answer? Do we lower our expectations? Do we stop working hard? Do we build in huge margins of error and call it the people factor? Do we grow bitter and sarcastic? All are options...Personally, I've begun asking God to heal my brokenness, teach me how to love His people, and to give me the strength to do so one day at a time. How's it going? Today, it's going good.

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