What I Wish I Knew
I’ve been in youth ministry for 20 years. That’s still a crazy thing for me to write – I still feel sometimes like I’m just getting started and know very little. But the truth is, I’ve been living this out for a couple of decades. I still love it and still love being in the trenches of youth ministry (and serving youth workers through Download Youth Ministry). If I could go back and talk to my 21-year old self, here’s what I would say to that eager young man:
It isn’t all going to be fun and games.
Youth ministry over the next 20 years of your life is going to be SO fun. You’re going to laugh and play. You’re going to smile a ton, and just love doing what God has called you to do. You’re going to make memories all over the world and impact teenagers at a crucial point in their life. BUT, it is also going to be really difficult. It is going to test you. You’re going to see things that discourage you. You will be frustrated. You’re going to be pushed to the edge of your patience and the edge of your faith. It is going to be SO fun, but it is real work and you’ll battle real spiritual warfare, too.
You are going to be impacted.
You think this thing is all about students but YOU are going to grow a ton. As you lean into the Scriptures for guidance, as you teach, counsel and help others, you will grow so deep in your faith. The temptation is to do this in your own strength but that doesn’t end well. When you walk with Jesus, your life will be changed because of youth ministry.
It is about students and adults.
When you think about youth ministry, you think about youth. But it is so much more than that. Yes, it is about teenagers making decisions for Jesus. You do get to help serve them in this crucial life stage. But it is also about parents and adult leaders. It is about the team you get to create and do life with. It is about the moms and dads you get to equip and encourage. And you’ll grow from a single youth worker to a married parent in the process. When you’re in the thick of it, that’s when you’ll realize just how important youth ministry is to your family, too.
It is the most rewarding calling ever.
Through the ups and downs, there’s no better calling on the planet. There’s nothing more rewarding to give your life to. Stay the course, stay close to Jesus and after a while you’ll realize just how incredible it is. You’ll think about your teenagers who have become adults and watch them flourish (some flounder) in their faith as followers of Jesus. You’ll look at your own children and smile as you reflect on them growing up loving the church.
What would you go back and tell yourself when you started youth ministry?
Josh Griffin is the co-founder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com and the creator of tons of resources, books and trainings for youth workers. He’s the High School Pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA, the father of 4 and been in youth ministry for more than 20 years.
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.