I have a unique job. I love my job, but I will be honest, it’s the hardest job I have ever had. I can’t even call it a “job”…because my past work experience positions were just jobs…I went in, punched a clock, went home and never thought about the place again until the next day. What I do now, it’s a polar opposite. I eat, drink and sleep my career now. I’m always thinking of how to improve things, changes that need to be made, ways to reach people, etc. I am proud to say that I am a Youth Pastor.
However, I am the forgotten youth pastor.
Now, before I get into WHY I am the forgotten youth pastor, I need to issue a disclaimer. In no way, shape or form do I want to come across as someone who is jealous, bitter or looking for a handout. That’s not the case. This blog is simply my perception of something, and if I can make someone take a look at this from a different angel, then my mission will be a success.
A pastor’s life is complex. I recently saw something from Victor Marx (who is the founder of All Things Possible Ministries) that gave some insight as to what pastors go through. Check this out: 97% of pastors have been betrayed, falsely accused or hurt by their trusted friends; 70% of pastors battle depression; 7,000 churches close every year; 1,500 pastors quit each month; 10% will retire as a pastor; 80% of pastors feel discouraged; 94% of pastor’s families feel the pressure of the ministry; 78% of pastors say they don’t have close friends; 90% of pastors say they work 55-75 hours per week.
That’s a lot to swallow. Pastors do a lot, not just in and for the church, but also in and around the communities they live in. Being a pastor is not a glorious position, but it is a rewarding one. Which brings me back to the title of this post…why I am the forgotten Youth Pastor.
It’s not just me…it’s almost every youth pastor in this country. Youth Pastors are often overlooked in the church. Church members often think that youth pastors “don’t do anything but play games with kids” or “isn’t a real job”. Now, I can’t speak for every youth pastor, but I can speak for myself, and by talking to other youth pastor friends, I know I am not alone in what I am about to say. (again, I am not complaining, I just want people to realize the struggles youth pastors also go through)
I have to maintain a budget for my youth group. OK, my wife does that. But still, I am responsible for the money in my youth group’s accounts. I get the phone calls during my family dinner time, that tells me one of my youth has been in a wreck and that I need to come to the hospital. I get the texts and Facebook messages when a youth is down, hurt or upset, and feels as though they have nobody to talk to but me. I organize summer camp trips, retreats, Wednesday night services, lock-ins. I stay up late talking to a youth who has just lost someone very close to them. I am the one who stays up late and by my phone during prom nights, making sure nobody needs a ride home after a night of partying. I am the one sending out numerous texts to the one kid who was hooked up in church, but now has strayed away. I am the one who does anything he can to get involved in the local school, whether it is as the football chaplain or whatever.
I have never had a love offering taken up for me, or have had someone buy my lunch, or give me a card that says “you’re doing a great job” or send my wife and I on a weekend getaway…quite honestly, I don’t need that stuff. But what hurts the most as the forgotten youth pastor, is the fact that people think we don’t do anything; that all Wednesday night church is, is a time for us to be loud and have fun. Honestly, probably half the people in a church, either A) don’t know who the youth pastor is, or B) has no idea what goes on during a Wednesday night service.
Just like my pastor is to us, I am a shepard to my flock. I pray for my flock everyday. I love my flock, as if they were my own kids. I would go to the ends of the earth to bring one of my sheep back. I love what I do, and quite honestly, can’t see me doing anything else, but as a youth pastor, I and my family have to sacrifice a lot of things. Just because I am a youth pastor, doesn’t mean I struggle with things, such as being discouraged or having the devil tell me I am failing or that I am a failure. I know what it is like to feel alone in a room full of people. I know what it is like to wonder if the message I just delivered, even made sense or if a youth got anything out of it.
Youth Pastors (as well as Children’s Pastors) need your love, support and prayers, just as much a senior pastor does. So before you think that Wednesday night youth services (or whenever the youth services are) is just a bunch of teens trying to have fun and play games, with maybe a little God sprinkled in somewhere before they go home, remember this article.
Youth Pastors (and Children’s Pastors) are pastors too, and don’t want to be forgotten. So please, pray for them, as you would your senior pastor.