For me one of the hardest things in youth ministry is the notion that youth ministry is only a stepping stone to a “real” pastoral job. Many people think that just because you minister to students you’re simply testing the waters or honing your skills so you’re prepared to take on the responsibilities of a “real” pastor when the time is right. Can I just say, a youth pastor IS a real pastor.

Youth Ministry is a messy, unpredictable, chaotic, emotional journey filled with twists and turns and bumps in the road. Youth Pastors journey through life with students that are constantly in a state of physical, emotional, hormonal change and everything in between. Not only do youth pastors journey with these students, but they also journey with parents (a whole different ministry entirely). Sometimes parents are supportive of the ministry and sometimes they are not. Sometimes both parents are still together and sometimes they are not. Sometimes the parents are involved in the student’s life and sometimes they are not. Each and all of these situations bring a new dynamic to ministering to the students and their parents.

If you are a youth pastor and you feel a bit underappreciated and devalued allow me to say that I appreciate all you do! I know what you put into your ministry and how challenging it truly is so THANK YOU for all your sacrifices. There is nothing more REAL about your “job” than when that student you’ve been praying for and walking closely with finally “gets it”! You are making a difference in the lives of the students God has placed before you – keep focused on Jesus and He’ll work out all the other details.

The reality of your “job” is that it’s not a job at all…it’s a calling! Thanks for answering the call!

Nate Eckert is the youth pastor at Flora United Methodist Church in Flora, IN.