For the last four years I’ve been behind the front lines supporting and encouraging Youth Pastors as they work on the ground in youth ministry. Time out has been good but for a while now I’ve missed it. Hence, I’m back and loving this new season here at Rowville Baptist.
It goes without saying that in the last four years I’ve aged. Everyone has. The guys I tracked with in my previous church were finishing up in Year 12, now they’re about to finish uni. I haven’t been a Youth Pastor in my 30s until now. I didn’t have a daughter four years ago.
This isn’t a bad thing. Not at all.
In fact, I think it is to my advantage coming back from a little break.
As I’ve reflected on this in the last few weeks I’ve noticed three particular things about myself that I believe will help me be a better Youth Pastor this time around.
I’ve realised my passion for youth and young adult ministry in a church setting has stayed strong. It’s where my sweet spot is. It’s what I enjoy doing and where I’m confident in being fruitful for the kingdom.
In fact, it’s off the back of a conference last year where I began to think seriously about getting back into the day-to-day of youth ministry and the low embers were fanned back into flame.
In four years I’ve been given a lot of perspective.
Through the all-consuming nature of church ministry it is hard to see the forest for the trees. I’ve realised what a privilege it is to be walking with people as they explore faith and seek to follow Jesus. Being part of that can feel overwhelming and monotonous if you don’t have some perspective. I’ve been able to look at what’s important and what’s a waste of time to worry about. It’s been refreshing, particularly for someone who was born into a Baptist church 33 years ago.
There are of course stresses that come in the short-term but it is the longer-term view that is so important to have. The slow growth of the gospel working its way into people’s lives and helping them to become more like Jesus. Youth ministry isn’t a fast game, as much as I’d love it to be, it’s for those who see God building His church in His time.
Finally, I’ve become more productive.
I’ve learnt how I work best, when I work best, and what tools I need to work more efficiently and effectively.
Tim Challies recently wrote a book called Do More Better, in which he explains a system to help people work more productively. I was pleased that the three tools he uses were the ones I’d been using for a while (FYI – Google Calendar, Evernote and Todoist). It takes time to learn how to work and particularly in a role that is so flexible.
If you’re a Youth Pastor I’d encourage you to work on your system. What are the things in your life that help you work at your best? Are you a morning or evening person? Are you planning well, in life and ministry? Are you getting enough exercise or recreation in order to function at your best?
These are three observations about myself that I’ve noticed since being back in church-based ministry.
What about you, what observations can you make about yourself as you age as a Youth Pastor?