Let’s face it. Sometimes youth pastors get a bad rap. We get blamed for messes we didn’t make, called out for fights we didn’t start, and accused of throwing a Jacuzzi party in the baptistery.

That last one wasn’t me.


But there are some times when we make mistakes.

It could be because youth pastors are historically younger and less experienced. They could be because we like to push the envelope and sometimes ask for forgiveness instead Of permission. It could also be the fact that we’re just plain human and everybody makes mistakes!

When you get caught in a mistake you made, what’s your first response? Blame somebody else? I tend to blame the old ladies bible study. They just look too sweet and kind. Something dark must be lurking behind there.

Seriously though, when you find out that you made a mistake and are getting called out for it, how do you respond?

  • Defend yourself?
  • Fight?
  • Polish up the resume and hope for the best?

Here are a couple things to think about The next time you find yourself in the middle of the trouble you caused.

Own up to it

The buck stops with you, the youth pastor. Whether or not you were directly involved in the mistake happening or it occurred on your watch when you could’ve done something about it, you’re in charge. Don’t try to deflect or defend. Own it. 

Observe, don’t judge

Sometimes our mistakes can bring out the worst in other people. Truly. Maybe you’ve made the sweetest mom in your entire ministry into a raging, email spewing, subtweeting monster.

It’s hard in those circumstances to not take things personally. But instead of blaming others for their actions, Take a moment and observe to see if there’s something you can learn.

“Oh, when I forget to include a packing list in the retreat email, Karen flips out. That’s something I need to remember in the future.”

Make it right

Did you break the portrait of the first pass through your church ever had? Did you put a dodgeball through the stained glass window? Did you spill chocolate all over the carpet in the senior pastor’s office?

Make it right. Figure out who you need to call to fix it or clean it up and find where in the Youth Ministry budget funds can be made available to repair the damage.

Did you make a parent really mad by what you said at youth group?

Offer to meet them for coffee and apologize.

Try your best to seek restoration and take the first step. Don’t wait for somebody else to move toward you. You move towards them.

Ask “Is this an incident or condition?”

Do you get in trouble for the same stuff every month? When the senior pastor asked to have you come into their office, do you know exactly the reason why you’re going in there? 

Take a moment and reflect. 

Ask if this is a bad habit that you need a break. Then try to seek accountability for getting out of it. Have you lost every receipt you got this month? Maybe it’s time to work out a new system of saving those things on your phone.

Incidents can be overlooked and forgiven. Conditions can be a cause for dismissal.

What would you add to this list? When you get in trouble, what steps have you taken to make things right?

I hope it’s not throwing an after-party in the baptistery.