Have you ever felt alone? Discouraged? Felt as if this youth ministry thing is just so difficult you don’t know what to do? Me too! Being in ministry can be so lonely and challenging because many times you have no one to share the struggles you are going though with. You have no one that will understand what it is like and the pressures you deal with. But do you know who knows exactly what you are going though? Other youth workers!
I don’t know what it is about youth workers but we are the ones who try to take on the world and do it all on our own. It is human nature to not want to seem weak or incapable of handing the tough situations, and we do the same thing when it comes to ministry. We don’t know who we can turn to so we don’t turn to anyone. But we NEED each other! If we want to continue in youth ministry for the long run we need to understand we cannot be an island and here is how.
1. Be intentional
It is essential that we are intentional about finding community, accountability, and someone to encourage us on our journey. Being in youth ministry means that you are extremely busy, which is exactly why we must be intentional about not being an island. We must reach out to other youth workers, take steps to find people we can talk with, and look for ways to get involved in life-giving ministry relationships.
2. Join a network
Find a larger local network of youth workers to be part of. It is awesome to make one on one connections but it is also so important to be around a larger group of youth workers. Some of the best advice, encouragement, and relationships I have recieved in youth ministry came from wandering into a network meeting and opening up about the things I was dealing with. What can be better than hanging out with a room full of people who know exactly what you are dealing with and can help you through it?
3. Find someone you can look up to
I have man youth ministry relationships but I have about three 20+ year youth ministry veterans I meet with, learn from, and am mentored by. Find someone who knows more than you and has been doing youth ministry longer, that you can look up to and learn from!
Meet with them and…
–Ask questions – Have a list, or just keep asking to make sure everything is clarified, but go in with the intention of asking and learning.
–Be quick to listen and slow to speak – Over the years I have realized when I had a revelation about youth ministry and share it with my youth min mentors I find out they have already been doing it for years! Recently, I spoke at a training and while I was talking two of the other speakers (who are both 25 year ym vets) were sitting in the back near my wife. My wife told me that at almost every point I made they turned to each other and said “isn’t it funny when the young bucks discover our old tricks?” Be quick to listen and slow to speak, there is so much knowledge to be gained.
3. Find someone to pour into
Complete the circle of relationships, don’t just be mentored but find someone to mentor as well. Even if you are just starting out you can find someone, maybe a student who wants to go into ministry, a college student, intern, volunteer, someone that you can pour into just as someone else has poured into you.
Youth ministry can be a very tough, lonely environment but that is why it is so crucial that we lean on each other! We cannot be islands in the youth ministry world, we need each other. Check out these links to find a network in your area!