I hate to disappoint you youngin’s in ministry who, like me, romanticize youth ministry. You may think it’s great being the grizzled veteran whose seen it all only to sit with a bottle of scotch at night smoking cuban cigars and wondering where the time went…ok the last part isn’t true. well, partially, I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which, I just felt like monologuing my own youth ministry noir.

I’m 49 on my way to 50 and I’m not happy about it. I called a childhood friend tonight so he could cheer me up and that level was unlocked. He asked me how my journey towards 50 was going and I told him it sucked.

I basically feel like I’m semi-re-tired. I have way too much free time, other than making youtube videos, podcasts, etc. My youth group and church isn’t very needy so I’m left to my own devices. Growing old sucks, but growing old in youth ministry, at least right now, in this moment, isn’t great either.

I lack the desire to do do many of the things I used to like to do in YM which is normal in the aging process. Maybe I just need a testosterone shot or maybe God is doing something else. I’m prayerfully considering both options but that isn’t all I’m struggling with.

I came to the realization today that I don’t believe in destiny. I don’t believe there is a fixed point in time that I am supposed to reach. I still believe in God’s providence and His presence in all things, but my reality is what I make it. There’s no “big break” coming, no matter how hard I try,

I feel like Barry Allen in the Flash trying to get faster so he can save Iris from her death that he saw in the future. Flash finally taps out and admits he can’t do it.  Whatever future I saw for myself as a young man, it’s just not going to happen and I’m spending much of this year coming to terms with that, but It’s not easy.

I wish I had some words of wisdom for you. Maybe when I hit 51 I’ll have better perspective or maybe I won’t. My journey through Ecclesiastes is helping.

Verses like

So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun. Ecclesiastes 8:15


A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, Ecclesiastes 2:24

are certainly helpful.

I still woudn’t give up all the memories and God moments I’ve had with students. Maybe I need to take more time to reflect and less time trying to get somewhere. I don’t know. I’m still working that out.

I hope you don’t mind a little bit of honesty and a little less How To. This is the disciple project blog and aging in ministry is part of my journey as a follower of Jesus and if you’ve read this far, thanks, I appreciate it and there may be even more honesty forthcoming. I hope it serves you well in your life and ministry journey.

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  1. I am 59 years old and a long time ago I decided to bloom where God planted me. There are benefits to aging in youth ministry.
    Check out my thesis “The Aging Process and How That Affects Judgement and Choices in Youth Ministry” at http://www.uthdoc.com. Each age has its advantages and disadvantages. Focus on what God has given you at this time in your ministry. Two things that an older youth minister brings to the table are relational discipleship and a father figure for the teens in the group.
    May God bless your next 10 years in ministry.

  2. Thanks for the reply Rick. I downloaded your paper and I look forward to reading it (and probably writing about it). Two things, I agree there are pros and cons to aging as a youth pastor, but, not having read the paper yet, don’t know if you included the health of the church culture a youth worker works in. I think longevity is fine, but not to a fault if the place you work is unhealthy. I have two issues with the phrase “bloom where you are planted”. First, to say we are planted, means we have little or no control over where we work. It says, “you’re stuck here, now deal with it.” Planted also assumes that God put you in that church but, and although that is technically true, I also believe it can be his permissive will rather than his perfect will. Growing where you are planted, when all the church does is spray pesticides, is not impossible, and some things can be gained, but overall, the negative health of that culture isn’t worth staying in the meat grinder. Thanks again for your comment and I look forward to reading your paper.

  3. Thanks. In a truth in advertising segment, I have been asked to leave 3 churches over my 30 plus years in student ministry. Politics, not anything that I really did wrong. I am now after 12 years in a tough church situation where a new younger pastor has come as the new lead pastor. So I do know the hard parts of ministry. I tell young guys all the time, if you go into youth ministry, make sure you are called to youth ministry because there are some seasons in life that your calling is all you have to keep you going.

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