The Soul of a Youth Worker
Soul care is a subject many youth workers tend not to pay attention to. However, if you desire to have longevity in ministry, it’s imperative that you pursue it. The subject of soul care has been written about, but it usually focuses on the senior leadership or senior pastors. These leaders carry a heavy weight: research has shown that 1500 to 1800 pastors leave ministry every month due to burnout, moral failure, or conflict in the church. In addition, research has also shown that pastors suffer from depression, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and other chronic diseases at a rate higher than that of the general population. Although this research focuses on the effects of ministry on the senior pastor, it begs a couple of questions: Are the demands of youth ministry upon a youth worker of a similar weight? What is the longevity, lifestyle, and culture of a full-time youth worker while he or she is serving in youth ministry?
The subject of soul care is addressed in Scripture. Paul writes, “ Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16 NASB).
I would like to emphasize Paul’s statement “Pay close attention to yourself.”
Let’s look at how you might apply this in your personal life as well as in your ministry. Are you well balanced? Are you spending adequate quality time with family, friends, and loved ones? Are you paying attention to how you’re doing? Youth workers often become so focused on the demands of public ministry that they don’t look introspectively at their own personal health. Does this mean that your life outside of your ministry matters? Yes! You matter! What do you enjoy? What makes you relax? How is your health? When was the last time you had a good laugh? When you’re coaching your volunteers and teaching your students important life lessons, it’s vital to make sure you’re not on the verge of burnout.
Your soul is a complex entity—it’s made up of your mind, will, and emotions.
When was the last time you paid attention to this trinity within you? How well do you know yourself? What are your limitations, your secret flaws, and your shortcomings? You will likely discover these while you’re serving in youth ministry. It’s vital that you come up with an emergency game plan for your soul. This may include annual vacations, scheduled downtime, and a fast from your media devices—these are great strategies when you’re attempting to listen to your inner voice.
What you do matters, but God values you more than he values what you do.
When you serve God in tough situations, you ought to know for your own mental wellbeing how much pressure you can stand before you break. Pay close attention to the indicators within your soul that let you know when you’re in danger of becoming overwhelmed, fatigued, stressed, or burned out. These can cripple a youth minister’s ministry as well as his or her personal life. Ministry is important, and making sure you’re well enough to sanely perform your required tasks at an optimal level is vital.
I leave you with these thoughts:
Trusting yourself is not prideful—it’s actually a display of humility. Trust your instincts, and trust in the Lord. Be humble enough to acknowledge when you need to revive, rejuvenate, refresh, or take a break from the routine of youth ministry. Do not be involved in a planned programming system for your student ministry without planning healthy programming for your sanity, longevity, and stability in ministry.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.