9 Ways You Should Be Preparing For A Life After Youth Ministry

This is the 11th post in my series of 12 posts on the new book by Jeff Goins, Real Artists Don’t Starve. It’s my attempt to convince youth workers that they’re artists and that their work matters.

Being a youth pastor for 27 years sounds romantic, but it’s also pretty one note. I’m eventually not going to be a full time youth pastor. I’ll always do youth ministry, but not in the youth pastor role. This brings me to the point of this blog, you should be diversifying your life.

Unless you are planning to climb the ministerial ladder (which is not all its cracked up to be), become a senior pastor, and build a large church, you should be diversifying your life/career. The church, that body you serve for no matter how long,  does not and will not owe you anything. They’ll look at you and say, “You should have been making plans.”

When I made a lifetime to commitment to youth ministry 27 yeas ago,  I had no idea what I was saying. My 22 year old self had not idea what was in store. It’s hard to say if I would change anything but I would certainly add to my life more skills, certificates, and whatever else would help me get ready for a time when I would not a youth pastor.

Thankfully, in the past ten years, I’ve been able to adapt to the internet and technology. I’ve been able to use these things as a means to create the life I want in the future which is to train and inspire youth workers, but even that has become diversified between this blog, my store, my Youtube channel and my podcast.

The Starving Artist masters one craft.                                                                    The Thriving Artist masters many. – Jeff Goins

The same is true for youth workers. If you were no longer able to be a youth pastor in a local church,  what would you do? Let’s say, like in the market crash of 2008 where people lost their retirement, etc. you suffered a crash of some kind that left you devastated and you had to start over. What next?

This is why diversifying your talent portfolio is so important. In the midst of your ministry you could be skill building, learning, adapting, and when the time comes, you’d be ready for whats next.

Here are eight things you could be doing to prepare for what’s next

Get your CDL license so you can drive something besides a church van.

Improve your computer skills (how to build websites, fix computers, etc.)

Get certified in another passion (gun instructor, CPR, lifeguarding, etc.)

Improve your writing skills (start a blog, write book reviews, etc.)

Improve your communication skills (Take a class online or off, join a Toast Masters, start a podcast)

Learn a new skill that’s in high demand (welding, car repair, etc.)

Start a side business (catering, dog walking, etc.)

Finish or start your degree

Network like crazy and get to know people in various fields (ministry, business, finance, technology, etc.)

Your art is never beholden to a single form. You can always change and evolve, and the best artists do this regularly. They understand that in order to thrive, you have to master more than one skill. This is the Rule of the Portfolio: the Starving Artist believes she must master a single skill, whereas the Thriving Artist builds a diverse body of work. – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve

There are thing you are learning in ministry that will help you later on. You also brought some skills into the ministry that are helping you ugh where you’re at. Like home and auto and your internet and cable, you should be bundling those into crafting a life after youth ministry.

You say, “But Paul, I’m 25. I have plenty of time.” Until you look up one day and you don’t. We have a responsibility to our church to do a  good job but we, if we’re married, owe our families a good life. Unless you work at a mega church, with a fantastic retirement package, the local church you work at will be of no help to you one day. You have to help yourself now.

Jeff relays the story of Michelangelo and how he diversified his skills t be become unbeatable. In the middle of his already established career he learned architecture and began designing St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. 

Michaelangelo start with sculpture, moved to painting and leaned new skills as the opportunity arose. Do not say no to opportunities to learn new things, you’re only hurting yourself.

We must realize that each week we teach, preach, do outreaches, etc, that they are not solitary acts, we are building a body of work. If we build wisely,  and  intentionally, “What’s next” won’t be as difficult to answer.

On to the final post: Real Youth Pastors Don’t Give Up Their Dreams 

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