A congregation cannot have a healthy youth ministry if the youth leader is not emotionally healthy. It’s that simple. Burned out youth leaders just can’t fake their way through a ministry year, nor should they. I would urge youth leaders to consider forming small networks with 3-4 other youth leaders in order to build up their own well-being and energize each other.
Pastor networks have been in place for quite a while. A friend of mine, Rodger Price, wrote a book about these types of pastor networks called “All Things New, A Fable of Renewal.” It’s available through Faith Alive and it’s an easy read. (You could read it and then present it as a gift to your lead pastor to get on his/her good side.)
Within peer networks, you can develop deep, meaningful relationships with others who share many of the same joys and challenges that you experience. It creates a safe place to share frustrations and fears. It’s a place where you can come around other youth leaders who need your support. It’s a prayer group. It’s a fan club. It’s an accountability group.
I believe that peer networks, when they are honest and active, can build up and protect youth leaders and offer a spiritual support that is vital for healthy ministry.
Every job, every profession, has its good days and bad days. It’s how one handles the bad days that most directly affects how successful and satisfied an individual is in their chosen profession. Peer networks can celebrate the good days and limit the effects of the bad days. Think about it.