I used to think I could work anywhere, anytime,  and for anybody. I thought I was the youth ministry swiss army knife that was good for all occasions. Like the army knife pictured, I had 85 gadgets good for any denom, para church, or non-denom situation. Boy, was I delusional. One of the things I learned working at a Methodist church is that I cannot work in a Methodist church. I understand that all are not created equal, but if it’s traditional and I have to keep up with a ton of paper work, then, that is not the job for me. Are you suffering from the Anywhere , Anytime, Anyone Syndrome? Let me break it to you harshly

  • You can’t work just anywhere

As much as I believed I could, I couldn’t. Eventually it  catches up to us. all. When I start looking outside my frame of reference I have this justifying thought that goes, “Youth ministry is the same everywhere.” It is and it isn’t . Youth ministry, as far as mechanics may be the same, but the context and structure is different. I thrive best when I have the freedom to do and don’t have too many bosses, etc. “Well of course you do Paul who wouldn’t?” Well, to start with, most youth pastors in their first 5 years. Learning the ropes, the politics, and a million other things keeps new guys hopping. I have been through the fire and now I know what kind of structure I want. It only took, 5 churches and 20 years to figure it out.

  • You can’t just work anytime

Seasons are called seasons for a reason. There is a short amount of time  for each season to do it’s work in the earth. Plants must grow, wither, die, and grow again (see Ecclesiastes). There are times when we think we should be doing this not that. Joseph thought he should have had his brother bowing down to him, not rotting in jail. Youth Ministry and all ministry comes in seasons

  • The employed/life is good season (growing)
  • The I am miserable at my church season (withering)
  • I am working at Chick Fila to pay the bills season (dying)
  • I hate the ministry and I am never going back (dead)
  • I am called whether I like it or not, sign me up (growing again)

God brings us through these seasons so we will grow and prosper according to His plan. Anytime is in God’s hands not ours. There are things to be learned that can only be learned beyond the church walls.

  • You can’t just work for anyone

I know, there are jobs we take because we want to and those we take because we have to. I have done both.  I can’t just work for anybody anymore. I have dealt with my share of type A personalities, driven men who have little time for you. After working for the same kind of guys and being fired (twice) buy those kind of guys; the Lord revealed to me that I was like a wife who went from bad marriage to bad marriage, endured beatings, only to fall into the arms of the first man who would take care of me. I need a pastors and team who are committed to relationships and doing life and church together. I need pastors who value my opinion. We sabotage ourselves when we accept positions with the faulty notion that we can work anywhere and for anybody.

Let me encourage you to say no. If you can,

  • Say no to the jobs that don’t fit you.
  • Say no to the wrong pastors and leaders for you.
  • Say no to the wrong structure that will inhibit you.
  • Say no to the jobs that do not play to your strengths.
  • Say no to jobs that are about pay checks instead of passion.
  • Say no to working for anyone, anywhere because you think you can, you can’t.

God has designed all of us to be somewhere with someone who compliments us and challenges us. I was a martyr for many years, thinking I had to go through these things, with these churches, with these men. Whether I did or didn’t have to learn this way I don’t know. What I have learned is that God has made us all a certain way, for a certain purpose, with certain gifts to be used in certain ways. Don’t settle for less.

Spread the word. Share this post!

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Youth Ministry Conversations – Great Blogs this week


  2. Paul, what an interesting position to be in. I think you have developed some great tools for working with not just the youth, but anyone seeking to be more in tune with the gospel message. You have touched an important point here that our youth subconsciously recognize; it is the core truths and principles that they want and need not a super-duper flash and zing mega-multi-media youth program. It is the same for each of us, programs can be like seeing a miracle; it provides temporary conversion. But having the holy ghost testify to us in our hearts about true principles and values brings lasting conversion. Keep sharing gospel truths!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.