Welcome to part five of my series The Five Plans Every New Youth Pastor Should Have. You can check out the beginning of the series here.
Can I tell you when I most often felt the burn of burn out? It was was when the wheels in my head started to grind together effecting the gears in soul. When I felt like I had no one to talk to, no one to support me and no one to collaborate with, my soul started to shrivel. I can only imagine what new youth pastors today must deal with post pandemic.
IN a 2020 study Burnout among Christian Youth Workers: A Cross National Analysis, between US and UK youth workers, feeling isolated or lonely, spiritual dryness, pastor hard to get along with, and too much criticism are the top four items named by these US and UK youth workers.
If for no other reason, this is why new youth pastors need a growth (maturity, safety) plan.
I put a few extra words in parenthesis because for a youth pastor to grow, they also need to know how to keep their souls from shriveling up and that requires making mature decisions on how to use one’s time.
If you are a new youth pastor, I can’t emphasize enough how important feeding your own soul is. In my younger days, I rarely took a day off. I spent very waking moment trying to figure our how to grow the youth ministry and meet the needs of others. I was a grade A ministry martyr and I was wrong.
It wasn’t until my first burn out did I recognize that I needed
more time in the Word and less time watching tv.
more time with my family and less time with students.
more time connecting with others and less time in isolation.
more time networking with other youth pastors and less time being a Lone Ranger.
This last one was critical because I needed to know I wasn’t the only one suffering the slings and arrows of youth ministry and I imagine it is the same for you.
New youth pastors have a head full of ideas and spend a lot of time planning to get these ideas our of their heads onto the youth calendar, but one thing that does not make it on the calendar is how they, themselves, will grow. There is information growth like podcasts, books, Youtube, etc. but there is also relational growth, time with like-minded people.
In the same study I mentioned earlier,
“of those who experienced burnout, 19% received some form of counseling or therapy and is the second most common recovery element of participants. Some form of encouragement from leadership, pastor, or mentor was often connected to receiving counseling and thus staying in ministry.”
If you are looking for way to connect with other youth pastors, growing in your journey as a minister and, yes, looking for a way to vent in a safe space, I created My My Monthly Mentor just for you. My Monthly Mentor is a monthly gathering of youth workers who want to grow in the craft as well as their calling and find balance in their personal and professional lives.
You can purchase My Monthly Mentor on a month to month bases or every three months. You can also buy a yearly subscription to Youth Ministry Monthly where, in addition to the monthly coaching, you receive monthly bundles filled with forms, lessons, graphics and more.
Whether you purchase either of these resources from me is not the point, the point is you find a way to take care of your soul so you can stay in youth ministry as long as you want rather than being sidelined by the pressures and burnout of ministry. If you want to stay in the game long enough to make a difference, take care of your soul.