You were hired as youth pastor, but it seems as if maybe you didn’t read the fine print: AV tech, children’s ministry substitute, kitchen worker, maintenance, janitor, and whatever else needs to be done. It must have been written in there somewhere because it is definitely a requirement. It happens to some extent at every single church, but if you are at a small or medium sized church, this surely happens almost daily. You are required to wear many, many hats no matter what your official job title is.
So, how do you handle being expected to do everything? How do you strike a balance between doing what needs to be done so you don’t get fired and not being taken advantage of, while still having a servants heart? It is one of those things that happens often in ministry but is not often talked about. Here are a few tips for juggling many hats in ministry…
1. Have a servant’s-heart
First and foremost we must check our hearts. After I had been in ministry for a few years, I began to develop an ego and really struggled with this. My title was Youth Pastor and I had so much pride I thought that was the only thing I should ever have to do, regardless of who needed help or what needed doing. I had completely taken “serving” out of the equation. Ministry had become 100% a business to me and I developed an attitude of “that is not what I am paid to do.” I simply refused do things and ended up rubbing many people the wrong way.
We need to check our hearts. Being asked to do everything in the church can be frustrating but we have to check our motives and heart to see where our frustration is rooted. Remember, we still need to have a servant’s heart and be willing to serve the Body of Christ and build His kingdom, regardless of our title or job description.
2. Learn to prioritize
However, having a servant’s heart does not mean you have to let yourself be taken advantage of. It is very easy to allow yourself to be taken advantage of and do so much for everyone else’s ministries, meeting every “need,” that you are not left with adequate time or energy for your own work. In many churches you do not have a choice, you are stuck doing 100 different jobs. This is why you must learn to manage your time and prioritize the tasks that need to get accomplished for your ministry.
3. Learn to say no
In order to fully make number 2 happen, you have to learn to say no. This can be one of the toughest things you have to do in ministry but sometimes we need to say no. As we prioritize, there will be times when we are unable to do certain tasks simply for the sake of time. As the youth pastor it is automatically assumed you know all tech related issues and how to fix them, but sometimes you may have to tell the senior adult Bible study that you can’t set up their projector that week. Again, it is not easy. But we need to learn to say no.
4. Be Honest
If you are going to be able to say no, you will have to learn to be honest (aka — communicate!). Like we have said, many times we are stuck wearing many different hats and have no choice. So, how do you say no without getting fired? Communicate!
-Be honest with your leadership
Whether it be your lead pastor, executive pastor, or whoever it is above you, it is essential that you communicate and be honest with them about the conflict—the reasons why you cannot do it—and work with them to brainstorm other solutions. If you can help, it is still important to be honest about what needs to be done in order to keep all areas of the ministry healthy.
-Be honest with people who ask you do something
Instead of struggling through telling people yes and then trying to balance a million things while stressing out the whole time, simply be honest and explain what you can do and what you can’t do at that time. Explain your reasons and be honest.
-Be honest with yourself
Be honest about why you feel the way you do. Does your heart need to change? Does your schedule need to change? If it is a heart issue, then be honest with yourself and deal with that issue. If it is truly an issue of being taken advantage of, then be honest about that and what it will look like to change it.
Also, be honest with yourself about whether or not you can actually do everything you are doing. Often when you are spread too thin, everything suffers.
Balancing all of the “jobs” required of a youth pastor that are not actually youth ministry can be extremely difficult. But hopefully taking a look at your heart, learning to prioritize, learning to say no, and being honest with yourself and those around you can help you balance the tricky world of wearing many hats.
Todd has been in youth ministry for over 10 years and has a passion for reaching lost students and training youth workers to do the same. He is the founder of Stoked On Youth Ministry, a speaker, author, and pastor. When Todd is not writing or speaking he enjoys surfing, baseball and most importantly hanging out with his awesome wife and three beautiful daughters. You can connect with Todd on Twitter @TheTodd_Jones, Instagram @Todd_Jones or for speaking inquiries visit TheToddJones.com