I met a youth pastor this summer at a Christian event we were both attending. He was there with his group and honestly? He and his group created a bit of consternation for the leadership of the event. Finally in my Mama Caro style (forthrightness with love), I asked him, “Did you know that you all are known as “that group?” His response? “Yeah, we kinda like it that way” and smiled. Me: “Well, stop it. It’s hurting the leadership.” To his credit, he was shocked because he truly hadn’t realized it from that angle. (They were awesome after that chat.)
Here’s a list of “my thoughts-with love” that might keep you from being “that youth guy/girl” (insert eye-roll) to others in ministry around you:
1) Get your registration stuff in by the deadline. It creates such problems when you act as if its no big deal, when really – it causes so much extra work for other people.
2) Don’t teach your group its OK to break the rules. For example, other groups are trying to go-along-to-get-along in community by being in before lights out. You should, too. (Fill-in-the appropriate group rule.)
3) Don’t at like you know it all because you don’t. Learn from every teaching opportunity because I’m here to tell you that if you think you’ve got it all covered, there are people at your church, even on your team, who would say you don’t. Its way OK, and even healthy, to ask for help or say you’re not good at something.
4) Be a grown-up when you’re with the grown-ups. Remember that being in youth ministry is a professional job. Dress like a pro, act like an adult, and just do what everyone else is doing. Represent us all well.
5) Everyone is busy, tired, and stayed up late. We’re in youth ministry! We’re all dealing with stuff, so suck it up, don’t sleep through stuff, drink some coffee and deal with the day.
6) When you do mess up, don’t get defensive. Say you’re sorry, learn from the transgression and move on.
7) Don’t use your young age as an excuse. You were old enough to be offered the job and accept it. Its OK to be young in youth ministry; we were all young once, too. There’s lots of grace for that. But being young isn’t an excuse for not doing your job.
8) Don’t use your old age as an excuse. Don’t be cranky or a joy-killer. Lighten up! You’re not too old to hang out with kids or serve or have fun. If you can’t play b-ball with the young ‘uns anymore, its OK. But being old isn’t an excuse for not doing your job.
9) Your church, your leaders, your pastors are not out to get you or your ministry. Don’t rent that kind of thinking too much head space.
10) Do your job or get out. If you’re not feeling youth ministry, that’s OK. Give a month’s notice and finish strong.
I know some of this may sound tough but its not meant to. I’m coming from a place of experience and having made most of these mistakes myself, ‘d like to save you some trouble.