I will be turning 46 this Saturday and will have been a Youth Pastor for over half my life. Although I have enjoyed my time as a Youth Pastor, but as with anyone with a singular focus in life,
A scientist working on a cure.
A teacher who’s married to their class.
A politician constantly seeking re-election.
Pastor’s who’s life is the flock.
it’s had it’s price tag.
I discovered The Leadership Triangle by John Maxwell years ago. The leadership triangle says that the higher you go up leadership your choices become fewer and fewer. Because of my singular focus, as a believer and pastor. I can’t
- post anything I want on facebook
- write about anything I want on this blog
- make snarkey comments on twitter (although I have been busted a few times)
- participate in certain activities otherwise I’d have my testimony or leadership questioned
Jesus said there would be a cost to following Him and that cost manifests itself in my personal and professional life. The cost of focusing on youth and youth ministry for 23 years looks like this, for me:
Lack of adult friendships and community
Some would say this is a choice, but it in reality it is not. At least not for me and many others. Being a leader and a Pastor puts me in small group. Other than who is on my church staff and youth staff, my relationships are rather limited. No one wants to hang around a pastor for fear of them finding out something about them, like they keep a few beers in the fridge or fear that the pastor may see their DVD collection and judge them. I am not completely devoid of relationships, but most of my informal relationships are outside the church.
Being misunderstood about what I do and sometimes why I do it
The older I get, the more I think people are wondering about my sanity. I get it , I am old and growing old in youth ministry looks a little weird. Funny, we don’t question a teachers life-long commitment to their students or why a coach wants to hang around and coach college kids. I can’t tell you how long I will continue to be a full time youth pastor, that will be up to God and I to work that out, but until I am not one, I will just have to deal with people who don’t get it.
Being good at just one thing
I have had, what I call, the Orville Rednebacher philosophy most of my life. Orville Redenbacher is the pop corn maker who bragged, “We do one thing and we do it better than anyone else.” All I have ever wanted to be was a good youth worker, I wanted to be the best in my field. To be really good at anything requires study and commitment and I have put the hours into crafting a professional life. The other thing i really want to be good at is training youth workers. I don’t mean just spitting out information but helping other youth workers craft a life long passion for reaching and discipling teenagers. That has a separate price tag, but no less costly,. This why I blog, do Youtube videos, and tweet out info youth workers can use.
In addition to being the best youth worker I have an equal if not greater commitment to being the best father and husband I can be lest you think I am completely self absorbed in my work. Also, separate price tags.
If you want a career as a youth worker, a teacher, a social worker, or other kind of public service job, you are committing to a narrow path. I have no retirement plans. Yes I should have saved money , invest in a 401k, bought some stocks, and done a host of financial planning, but I didn’t. I have the next 20 years to correct.
God has blessed me every step of my journey. He has provided everything my family and I have needed every day of these 24 years and will not stop providing, ever.
These are not gripes or complaints, these are just reflections and observations of where I am at. Maybe you are a youth worker and you feel a life-calling to work with teenagers, to that I applaud you and give you a standing O, but don’t believe that it comes without a price tag.
Have you, like Jesus said, “considered the cost” Luke 14:25-33
Do you have have a life long calling to youth work? What costs do your for-see to make the journey?