To say that those of us in ministry are insecure would be an understatement on par with saying Lady GaGa is “different”. We want people to know how hard are work is and how busy we are. We want people to know that we have a “real job” that is every bit as frustrating as someone else’s job. And I, you, and the rest of y’all are guilty of communicating this message by complaining incessantly about our line of work.
“Ministry is SO HARD!”, We tell anybody that will listen, “You work weekdays and weekends, no one ever thanks you, you’re under paid, the congregants constantly complain, it’s so LONELY!” while many of these things may or may not be true, our main objective in sharing them is to communicate to the outside world that we are selfless martyrs over-burdened with caring for their sorry asses. Don’t mean to use that kind of language in a ministry blog but I am trying to keep it real about what our griping says to those around us!
The truth is that ministry IS hard but it isn’t harder than working at Mc Donalds and the pay is better if you work full time. Where we miss the mark is in wanting people to know that ministry is just like any other job. It’s not. Ministry is a calling. Ministry is a privilege and a way of life. Those of us in youth ministry have the coolest jobs in the world. We get to eat junk food all the time, go on free ski weekends, play capture the flag, and spend time with amazing people! Sure there’s all that boring and hard stuff that goes on behind the scenes but even that isn’t trivial. What YOU do matters! So WHAT if you have to make the sweet tea for Wednesday Night! Can you picture Jesus stripped down to servants clothing rolling his eyes as he says: “I just washed your skank-nasty feet. Don’t thank me or anything. Just doing my job that no one pays me for!”?
When you complain, you choke the seed of ministry in those around you. You make it harder, not easier, to recruit volunteers and you model to your students that caring for them is an obligation. You need a couple of accountability partners to share your challenges and frustrations with but to the rest of the world you should minister with the spiritual fruit of joy.
The last time I was hired, I was one of about 10 candidates who were qualified and enthusiastic about young people. All across America, small churches are having to let go of their youth pastors in the face of harsh economic realities. All of this is to say: if you’re in youth ministry and you don’t deep down believe you have he coolest most important job in the world, if you don’t think the joy of serving the group of hilarious, weird, and talented students you’ve been entrusted with is worth the indignity of a condescending lecture or two, if you don’t truly feel that the hard work and long hours are a meager offering in comparison with the richness of the blessing of watching a young person grow from being lost to becoming a committed follower of Christ, then make room for someone that does. I hear Mc Donald’s is hiring.
Do the joys far outweigh the challenges in YOUR ministry? Have you, like me, ever been guilty of complaining too much?