It's a weird feeling getting older in youth ministry. I don't see myself as 'old', and yet when you can measure your ministry in double digits, you're clearly past novice level. I sensed I was a veteran of sorts when I started seeing advice requests and didn't quickly think to myself, 'How can I help them when I am drowning over here myself?'
To be sure, the transition comes quickly. I passed quickly from the stage where you are told lighting things on fire may make for a good visual but is frowned upon by insurance companies to where teens stand in shock at the realization that you are older than their parents.
Yeah, there was a happy middle ground where I think people were impressed by possessed wisdom that seemed beyond my years. That lasted about 15 minutes until they realized I was older than the parents of the teens I work with.
But when people seek advice about youth ministry, I still have the same to offer. There are 2 rules and only 2. The first rule of youth ministry is that you don't talk about youth...
Wait, that's a different set of rules. Here are the real rules as far as I am concerned.
Rule #1: Run away.
Seriously, run as fast and as far as you can. Youth Ministry is nothing like you think it is. Sure, the highs are real high, but the lows are real low. So do yourself a favor and forget you ever thought about this...ever. Get yourself a mindless job that won't push the physical, emotional and spiritual limits of mankind.
If you choose to ignore Rule #1, there's a second rule.
Rule #2: Commit at the beginning to stay until the end.
I'll admit. I blindly ignored rule #1 like a stop sign at 2am. But rule #2's timing is crucial. If you wait to commit until you see if you enjoy it, you'll be gone far too soon. So commit at the beginning to stick it out.
Parents will be angry. Teens will be foolish. Others will mock. Oh how they will mock. But commit to see it through. Why? Because youth ministry is nothing like you think it is. The highs are real high and the lows are real low. You will push the physical, emotional and spiritual limits of mankind.
But it's worth it!