Article by Dr. Shean Phillips
One of the hardest hurdles to clear when many people are thinking about making ministry a career is to determine if you have what it takes. Often, we have either had a great example, and we think “Oh, man I could never be as good as…” or maybe we have had a terrible leader and we think “Ugh! I would NEVER want to do that…” Both experiences can feel daunting, especially when you want to give God his rightful place as the leader in your life, and you have committed to doing anything He asks you to.
To help you get over this feeling (key word there), I have put together a couple of lists to help you think through whether you are the “Youth Ministry type.” Please don’t let any of these suggestions hinder God’s call on your life. The bottom line is that these are only traits to strive toward in Youth Ministry, there isn’t an actual “type,” and if there was, it is highly unlikely that what God has in mind is skinny jeans and plaid shirts 🙂 After all, God was the one that commanded older men and women to spiritually nurture younger men and women (Titus 2).
Ok, with all that out of the way, consider some of these thoughts about what it takes to be a youth leader.
What It Takes: Spiritually
A commitment to God and His Will
If you are not truly committed to God and the will He has for your life, you will likely make a poor youth leader. This is a bold statement, and I don’t mean you will stink at every aspect of the position, but in general, you will struggle. Consider this. Youth ministry involves a great deal of talking about things that were written thousands of years ago to people who struggle to see the practical implications of advice their parents gave them 10 minutes ago. Because of the cultural pool and technological advances, the chances of you ever becoming the most influential person in a teen’s life is very slim. This will happen with a few, but certainly not the masses.
Youth ministry involves a great deal of talking about things that were written thousands of years ago to people who struggle to see the practical implications of advice their parents gave them 10 minutes ago.
So, if there is going to be little “success” (consider the narrow path that leads to life in Matt 7:14), then why bother. Well, that is pretty much the point we are making here. Your commitment must be primarily to God and to God’s will. If you find your ultimate success in the items mentioned above, you are going to battle a constant feeling of ineffectiveness and discouragement. However, if your goal is to glorify God, you will see your ministry as being between you and Him, not so much stuck in the details.
Being Full of the Holy Spirit
We are sealed with the Holy Spirit at salvation, and can never lose it. We are also however given directives in the Bible to “walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16) and be “filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18) which is a daily occurrence. This daily “filling” comes by asking God to fill you with His spirit and give you the wisdom to walk with Him and not in your own understanding and emotion.
Proper Motivation, Meekness, and Humility
As was mentioned previously, the perceived “glamor” of being a youth leader or pastor will wear off quickly as the daily grind starts to settle in. Instead of being the “rock star” you may think they are, youth leaders are often the workhorses of their ministry settings. It is a lot of setting up chairs and missing what is going on so you can get things ready for the next thing.
Ministry should be done out of humility, not pride or a desire for recognition.
You need to have a proper motivation and do ministry out of a burden for teens and a desire to glorify the Lord. Ministry should be done out of humility, not pride or a desire for recognition. Be sure that if you are given a place of leadership that you exercise the authority with meekness, or power under control.
Love for the Bible
Events, relationships, meetings, and mission trips are all the things you see and you might associate with youth ministry. These are all important and they take up a lot of time and energy, but it is the spiritual growth and depth that you encourage in your students and the knowledge of the Word that will provide true life change. This means you will be spending hours studying the Word of God each week and preparing messages, devotionals, and sermons for teens and their parents. If you don’t love the Word of God, you won’t teach them to love it. Ask God to give you a love for His Word and get into a good reading plan that you can stick with. If you don’t naturally have this, don’t fret, the love will come with consistent time spent, but start now, not after you become a leader. You cannot give what you have not gotten.
If you don’t love the Word of God, you won’t teach them to love it.