This is for the days you want to quit.
- For the days when you dread checking your e-mail because you know there’s going to be another nastygram from someone you’ve upset.
- For the days when staff transitions leave you feeling unsettled.
- For the days when you’ve lingered and prayed over an event… That no one attends.
- For the days when staff conflicts leave you questioning why on earth God chose the church to do his will.
- For the days when your budget gets cut.
- For the days when the kid you’ve invested countless time and energy in tells you that youth group is no longer her “thing”.
- For the days when you look at your paycheck and think “I work 60 hours a week and make this?!?”
- For the days when a parent catches you after church and yells at you.
- For the days when your student leaders fail.
- For the days when that lesson you were all excited about tanks.
- For the days when you worry one of your kids has started doing drugs.
- For the days when everyone else in your staff meeting is recognized for their good work… Except you.
- For the days when you feel invisible.
- For the days when you realize your new adult leader isn’t working out.
- For the days when you go to bed worrying about one of your students… And wake up worrying about him, too.
- For the days when you realize you’ve already worked 12 hours and you’re still not done.
- For the days when you come home weary and exhausted, convinced that nothing is worth this.
On those days, friends, take a deep breath and remember.
- Remember the incredible, unexpected conversation you had on your summer mission trip. The one that lasted three hours and kids are still talking about.
- Remember the lonely kid who seems uncomfortable everywhere but here, in your ministry.
- Remember the cutter who you’re checking in with everyday because no one else is.
- Remember the adult leader who told you how much his own faith is growing because of serving in your youth ministry.
- Remember the parent who thanked you for investing in her kid.
- Remember the student’s application you read, the one where she listed you as the adult who’s most influenced her life.
- Remember the moment when you saw a student leader emerge and blossom.
- Remember the moment the kid told you he knew what he wanted to do with his life and that he’d figured it out because of a mission trip you took him on.
- Remember the privilege of walking through the death of one of your kids’ parents with him.
- Remember the moment when God became real to that kid you’ve prayed for for years.
- Remember the moment with the student you’re mentoring when the presence of the Holy Spirit became palpable.
- Remember the sacredness of your calling.
- Remember that in that calling, you will have bad days and even weeks but that what you do matters – on the days when you see evidence of this and on the days when you don’t.
- Remember that God is with you, even on the days when you feel invisible.
- Remember that it’s hard now, but it will get better.
- Remember that you can do this.
And someday, you’ll be glad you did.
Jen Bradbury has been in youth ministry for 11 years. She’s the youth director at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, IL. Her writing has appeared in YouthWorker Journal, The Christian Century, and Immerse. She blogs at ymjen.com