I was advising a young man on career advice and thought I’d pass it along to you who are young youth workers or thinking about becoming a youth pastor. It’s also not too late for you older folks.
1. Get a degree in something other than youth ministry so you have something to support your family on.
2. Get as many certifications as you think necessary so you can be both independent and move between job markets such as bartending, life guarding, welding, etc.
3. Don’t wait until someone gives you permission or affirmation to do what you love. Even if you’re currently a youth pastor, start that podcast about your love of coffee or your YouTube channel on travel. It’s never too late do what you love.
4. Knowledge is great, but it will always be about who you know not what you know, so network often with those who have the same passions and goals you have.
5. Yes, I’m waiting to number five to give the obligatory statement, pray. It should go without saying, but I am saying it for those who think this should be number one. Prayer isn’t a point on a list, it is the unceasing pursuit of what God desires and how to fold our lives into those desires that God has already given us.
6. Don’t quit a job until you have another one. Your family will thank you. No matter how bad it gets, work harder, faster to make sure you have a plan before you say “I quit”
7. Manage your ambitions. Those great ideas you have, never unfold exactly as you think they will. Get counsel.
8. You have two way to choose a church you want to work in. You choose the church (style, programs, vibe, etc.) or you choose the leader/pastor which ranges from the maniacal type A where nothing will be good enough and run you into the ground to the people pleasing leader who allows the congregation to run over them, both are bad. Choose the leader because the congregation will never save your job.
9. Be more practical than magical in your thinking. The church, as an organization, will do what is best for that themselves and not for you and your family. Hence number one and number two. Be invested but not married to your role, because it can go away and it’s not who you are anyway.
10. Learn to disciple yourself. Read, grow, do. After a certain age, it is expected that you should know everything by now and people will stop investing in you. Invest in yourself, always, and you’ll never have to become co-dependent on others to do for you what you can do for yourself. Nobody owes you anything. You owe yourself.
Bonus: My friend Alex said,
Make yourself valuable. Ministry is a multi hat career. The more hats you can wear, the better. Learn graphic design, video production, social media, web design…anything and everything to make you more valuable to a church. Especially when it comes to technology and the digital world we live in.
That’s not everything I needed to know, but these were the most important.
For more great advice, as I am one who has failed at all 10 of these over the past 30 years, sign up for my new budget friendly coaching program