My first place of leadership was as a youth minister. That was while I was in seminary.
I’d never been in an “organized” youth program before.
Now I was in charge of one.
Everybody assumed I knew what I was doing. And I was almost a “youth” myself!
The pastor was pastoring.
The music minister was . . . musicing.(?)
I was the third man on the staff.
Bottom of the totem pole, so to speak.
Bless her heart, my wife knew more about youth ministry than I did.
She even explained to me what a “youth retreat” was.
I stumbled through that experience for over two years, learning where to begin in youth ministry.
I knew a lot about theology from seminary — didn’t learn a whole lot about being a minister.
You don’t have to stumble though your introduction to ministry
When I was called to my first full-time ministry . . . I stumbled around some more.
There was a pastor who wanted a staff to take care of their responsibilities (and more) without bothering him, a minister of education struggling to do his thing without bothering the senior pastor, and a music minister . . . “musicing.”
I was flying by the seat of my pants — again!
“If I’d had some set idea of a finish line, don’t you think I would have crossed it years ago?” — Bill Gates
The problem is, in ministry there is no “finish line.”
(You need to know that ministry is a lifetime learning experience. There is no time that a minister can say, “I’ve seen it, dealt with it and now I’m ready for it . . . all.”)
- Don’t despair — If you allow yourself to feel worthless, incapable, and God’s first mistake, you set yourself up for a self-fulfilling prophecy. Be confident, but do regular self-checks so you don’t become over-confident.
- Find a friend or two — Another “newbie” to ministry can be helpful in helping you know you’re not in the struggle alone. An older, more experienced minister who cares and will be your mentor can give you wizened guidance that will be educational as well as describing his own struggles that let you know it is survivable. (1Tim 5:1)
- Don’t give up — Any new job, calling or position is challenging at first. Stay with it and you’ll learn valuable lessons that will help you survive a lot worse in the future. (Phil 3:12-14)
- Get to know the lay people you’re ministering to — Frequently their feedback and input can be encouraging and offer guidance.
- Take care of yourself — If you don’t, you’ll burn out — an experience that leads to feelings of hopelessness.
- Take care of your family — Your wife and children are a great resource for you and your relationship with them is of utmost importance to them.
- Stay connected to God — While I’m listing this last, it’s obviously of greatest importance — without God’s resources, you won’t survive in ministry. (Deut 6:4-5)
Need to talk about it? Give me a call and have a safe, confidential talk with an experienced, objective ministry coach. My number is 225-773-8883. The first 30 minute consult is free.