What do you think my greatest challenge is?

Church politics?

Middle School kids who don’t shower?

Lock In’s?


All of those are challenging in their own way, but all of those are externals that I can handle. It’s what’s happening internally that is the most challenging, I’m getting older.

I turn 48 in a week and I’m freaking out a little. I’m pushing 50 and I’m still a youth pastor. I’m a little shocked that I feel this way and that I am still doing what I love,  but I should’t be. I heard the term “lifer” when I was in my 20’s and committed early to being a life long youth pastor in a culture where youth pastors were using student ministry as a stepping stone to somewhere else. That was unpalatable to me.

25 years in and I’m pretty happy, thus far, about how’s it’s turned out but the realities of keeping up  emotionally, physically, and mentally are quickly approaching.

There are things I just don’t care about anymore.

I don’t care as much about what’s hip or cool.

I don’t care about some break up.

I don’t care about whether I play a game or not.

This is not apathy, it’s just life.

My eyesight is shot. I lose my reading glasses everywhere to the point that I buy them from the dollar store by the dozen and leave them at the church, the house, and the car.

These things have me emotionally guessing at how I should feel about all of this.

There are days I wear my age like a badge of pride and that I can still hang with these teens and that, by the grace of God, I have earned their respect somehow that they should follow my lead.

Then there are days where I’m the broke down loser who can’t seem to get it together and thinks often about sneaking away in the middle of the night to write his youth ministry memoir.

Most days I’m in-between, keeping a level head, doing the work of  loving kids.

I have a feeling this will not be my last post about this, as I’m not quitting anytime soon.

I’ll keep you posted if I start having a hankering for prune juice.

Your Turn

Are you feeling the pinch of aging in youth ministry?

What are the challenges you face? How are you coping with them?





Spread the word. Share this post!


  1. I am a 59 year old youth minister. I have 4 grown kids and 5 grandchildren and I am still in youth ministry in a local church. I just completed last year a doctoral thesis on aging in youth ministry and what that looks like.
    “The Aging Process and How That Affects Judgement and Choices in Youth Ministry”
    I know that most youth ministers do not stay for life, “lifer”, but there are some. Some leave because they age out in their minds, some leave for more salary and others go teach or leave ministry all together.
    Every year as I approached 40 I wondered if I would age out. Every year I have felt God wants me to stay in youth ministry. Teens are fine that I am their youth pastor. Hey, I’m a loving grandparent and everyone loves there grandparent.
    For a deeper discussion check out the thesis “The Aging Process and How That Affects Judgement and Choices in Youth Ministry”.
    Dr. Rick Harris

  2. Thanks, Paul. There is a PowerPoint in the appendix that if you want to avoid the boring parts of “this is what I’m going to do” that are usually required in a thesis.
    I am looking to change the thesis into book form over this next year.
    Dr. Rick Harris

Comments are closed.