I started doing Youth Ministry as an 18-year-old punk. I didn’t know what I was doing then (most of the time that is true now too) and that was nearly 40 years ago.
I still claim to be “26” to my students.
I remember adults telling me I didn’t understand because “you aren’t married”, then it was, “you don’t have kids” then “you don’t have teens” and then “your kids are too old.”
It is always something!
The bottom line is, I won’t ever be “enough” but the good news is: I don’t have to be enough, HE IS!
I do think I am a better youth guy than I was years ago.
Because I am an “old” youth guy, I feel like I can understand things a lot better. Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way:
- I quit trying to be cool and just be myself. Besides cool to one teen is weird to another.
- I understand that Discipleship is a long-term thing and not a “month-long class.”
- I trust more in my staff and volunteers. I pour into them so they can then, in turn, minister to so many more than I can.
- I read my Bible like it matters to my everyday life. That may sound silly but I do remember reading for what I could teach instead of what I could learn.
- I try to celebrate the small wins and not just wait for the bigger ones. When one single teen comes to know Jesus, I am overwhelmed by His love.
- I love my wife and kids more. That doesn’t mean I neglect my calling or even my job, but I thank God daily for my family, (even when they make me mad).
- I call out my students and expect them to respect the Church and staff.
- I am always trying to learn more about teenagers. I think I know more now than I did when I was starting, but still need to learn every minute because things change rapidly.
- I am thankful to God that He allows me to serve Him as a servant of teenagers and I don’t look for the next “best” job or thing. It is my honor to serve Him in this way. (That might be why I am celebrating 30 years at this church in a few months.)
So don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you get too old for youth ministry. You might get tired but don’t give up. He sustains us. Why would you want to take a demotion to another church staff position anyway?
Grant Byrd is a Seasoned (nice word for old) Youth Pastor of 39 years. He’s still in the trenches and still loving It.