Sometimes you need to quit. Walk away. Get out.
There is a lot to be said about the benefits of longevity in ministry, I’ve written about it a bit myself. But, there may also come a time when you need to leave. The trick is to know when that time has come. As youth pastors (or just pastors in general) we typically have a very real love for our people and a deep sense of calling to what we are doing. Both of those are great, but they can cause us to miss or ignore otherwise obvious signs that the time has come to move on. There may be plenty more, but these are the 5 Good Reasons to Quit that I've identified.
It can be tempting to hide the issues our ministry has - to just ignore the failings and focus on the good stuff. And there really is a lot of good stuff, too! But, I want to be a better leader next year than I was this year. I want to care for my people better next year than I did this year. I want to run better programming to meet the needs of our congregation and community next year than i did this year. The best way I’ve found to improve in these areas is through evaluation.
In youth ministry, we love to talk about and share all of the fun stuff, we love to share the wins.
But, there’s a whole other side of youth ministry that we don't talk much about - because we can't. There are phone calls and meetings that stay confidential. There are situations you know about that you can’t discuss with just anyone. There are people you’re journeying with where you might be the only other person in the world that they’ve talked to.
“I’m just trying to figure out what God is calling me to do.”
I’ve heard this statement and variations of it more times than I can count. I’ve said it a few times in my life as well.
When I was in college and wrestling through God's call on my life one of my youth leaders walked through these questions with me. They brought instant clarity to what i need to do. In the years since, I've walked my own students through these questions dozens of times. Whether you’re seeking to understand God’s call on your life or are trying to help others do the same, here are 5 questions to ask that can help bring clarity to a calling.
On Thursday I pulled into a parking lot I’ve been in hundreds of times before and it felt like I was there for the first time. Parkside Collegiate, where I coach football and rugby, is suffering through the tragic loss of one of their own, and I had been invited to join with some of the students as they held a memorial for their friend in the school parking lot.
At church, I’m the youth pastor. I make the decisions, execute plans, and run the program. I’ve got a team of volunteers that help me accomplish all of that. They rely on me to give them direction. At football, I’m one of 8 assistant coaches. I don’t make the decisions, execute the plans, or run the program. I’m a volunteer and I take direction from the head coach. Being in that role has taught me tons about leadership. It’s been an important lesson for me to be on the volunteer side of things to appreciate and understand that perspective. After 9 years of being a volunteer football coach 5 things have stood out to me as essentials that leaders need to give volunteers in order for them to thrive.
The perfect youth ministry program… doesn’t exist.
There is no one size fits all way of doing youth ministry that can be implemented and succeed everywhere. If you look at the program across town or across the country that’s exploding with growth and simply try to take what they’re doing and replicate it, you’re headed for disappointment. Besides, if you and the church down the street are doing the exact same thing, one of you is unnecessary.
Design your program around the leadership you have, the discipleship your students need, the infrastructure you have access to, and the culture you’re trying to create. Working in that order will create a program uniquely suited to your students.