I was talking with a friend of mine who was a youth leader for many years and is now a senior pastor of a large church. We laughed as we remembered the crazy stuff that we experienced as youth leaders. We both expressed our thankfulness for the blessings we experienced AND we both agreed it was the most exhausting time of our life.
I’m pretty sure most youth leaders will agree that youth work, while incredibly rewarding, consumes time and energy in ways most of us never imagined. I suspect you could name a half dozen really good youth leaders who for a variety of reasons left youth ministry. Those reasons often include getting another job that takes up more time, getting married, having children, going to seminary, etc.
How many really gifted youth leaders have resigned because they didn’t have the time or energy to continue at the pace it takes to do good youth ministry? Then the next question becomes, how do we support those youth leaders so that they can continue to do the ministry for which they are so gifted?
Just this morning, a colleague reminded me of the story of Moses holding out his staff as the Israelites were in battle. When his arms became tired and his staff was lowered the tide of the battle turned away from the Israelites. So Aaron and Hur held up his arms. You’ll notice they didn’t take the staff away from him and start leading themselves. They simply supported him.
Great story, and I think it can be used to show the opportunity to support your youth leaders. You don’t have to lead for them, but you do have to support them.
How can you do that? Plenty of ways I can think of and probably many more that readers can add to the list. Are you praying over your youth leaders regularly? Are you providing help, through parents or others in the church who have time or talents to share? Are you encouraging balance in their lives?
I would love to hear of other ideas to support and care for youth pastors, who are so often more than willing to put in the hours and energy … but will ultimately pay the price in exhaustion and burnout.