Youth Ministry Arrogance

September 17th, 2009

It’s time for some youth workers to stop being so arrogant, controlling, and cocksure regarding their ministries. Too many youth workers have told me how many kids they get at their events or what dynamic speakers they are.

Over the past few years I’ve had the unique honor of traveling all over the world serving people through speaking with Youth Specialties. I’ve had the privilege of meeting some incredible people who love kids with all their hearts and just want to see those kids learn to love and depend upon Jesus Christ with their lives. It’s an honor to listen to some veteran youth workers tell their stories about how they’ve been working with kids for years while also holding down a full-time job, a family and other ministry responsibilities. As I listen, I’m learning that what really matters most is not that these youth workers have an incredible education or an awesome youth center. It doesn’t even really matter if they have great speaking abilities or specific counseling skills. What matters most is that they just show up week after week. They’re determined to get involved in the life of a student and to live out the reality of God’s Kingdom in their midst.

Unfortunately, I’ve also met many other youth workers and youth pastors who are really impressed with themselves. They’re trying to be “successful” in ministry by putting on a really good show for students and believing they’re really making a difference when lots of kids show up to their events, in spite of the fact that very little real life transformation is happening. Some youth workers I meet are barely out of their twenties, but have so much confidence in themselves that they speak authoritatively to parents telling them how to raise their kids and giving them other “helpful hints” on parenting. What do they know about raising teenagers for crying out loud? Other youth workers spend time criticizing their Sr. Pastor and continue to let me know how they would run the church “the right way” if they were in charge. Still others sincerely believe that nobody can do the job the way they can, so they’re caught in the never-ending cycle of doing it all themselves, never allowing anyone else to experience the real joy of ministering to students.

What’s been on my mind recently is what youth ministry would really look like if more of us would learn what true humility really is and how we should apply it in our own ministry setting. We’ve got to remember that God’s Church has been around for more than 2000 years, and it has functioned quite well for most of that time WITHOUT US! We are called to serve—not to be “successful” (whatever that means). We may need to remind ourselves regularly of Paul’s words to the church in Philippians 2:3-11, how Christ led with qualities like “humility”, “obedience” and “death”.

I would love to learn this lesson myself of what it means to truly die to my own ambitions and ideas of success and to learn to serve students, parents and co-workers with the love and humility of Jesus Christ. My prayer is that more of us would learn to hold on to our ministries with “open hands” and allow God’s Spirit to guide and control us.


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.