This week I presented some new material I’ve been working on reflecting on now 20 years in youth ministry. I’ve joked for a while now that if you want to be a youth leader trainer, all you have to do is stick with it for 20 years because you’ll be the last one standing and people will think you know something about ministry. Ha!

So I’ve done a little reflection and come up with 3 key areas that you have to hold on to if you want to last in youth ministry:

<1> Remember your calling
I remember very specifically my calling to youth ministry. It is important to me – because no matter what challenges I face, no matter the obstacles or crisis, I am called to this. I’m giving my life to it. Nothing should distract me from that focus, no one should be able to unseat my resolve. Reflect on your calling and hold on to it when the times get tough or there’s a temptation to take an off ramp.
<2> Embrace who you are
I know my personality well – I know what I’m good at and what I’m terrible at. I try to lean into the things that come easily, learn as much as I can where I can realistically improve, and surround myself with greats to help me in the weak areas. I teach like me, not like the big-time speaker guy on the conference circuit. I minister like me not the youth pastor down the road I once immaturely idolized. If you never have take a personality test of strengthsfinder, go for it!
<3> Think big and small
I’ll certainly blog more about this later – but the gist of it is this – youth workers tend to only value big. We want bigger, better, more extreme can-we-top-last-week. I will only listen to youth workers from mega churches. I can’t learn from the youth pastor in my community group. I’ll network my way to the top! How stupid and naive! Think big … there’s nothing wrong with respecting size or even trying to grow your own youth ministry, but also always fight to make your youth ministry smaller as well. Better community, tighter fellowship, quicker returned phone calls, more humility all of the way around is always a win.