I recently signed up for ChurchLeaders.com Youth Leaders newsletter and received my first one today. The email highlighted a blog post by acquaintance and co-laborer in Christ (and Youth Ministry) Jeremy Zach in which he outlines the Top 5 Reasons Student Pastors Resign. It is a great post and one that I believe anyone connected to Youth Ministry should read. I personally found it insightful and agree with the reasons Jeremy listed.
- Personal financial pressures
- Difference in church theology and leadership
- Preference for another kind of ministry
- Need to care for family
- Not a fit in church community and culture
It got me thinking, though, about what I believe is one more reason Student Pastors resign. I would assert that Failure may be a reason many Youth Leaders struggle and even resign from their positions, and I fear it might be a deep rooted emotional reason that drives many to leave their church positions. The way I look at it, there are three different aspects of Failure that could play into a Youth Leader resigning.
- Failure to meet the standards set in place by the church’s leadership. I have heard far too many stories of Youth Pastors who are hired by churches who are expecting him or her to be the “magic pill” for their Youth Ministry needs. It may be unintentional, but they put serious amounts of pressure on them to succeed AND they create unrealistic goals for them to achieve. Inevitably, situations such as these typically end on the ugly side of parting ways and the Youth Leader limps away feeling upset and defeated.
- Failure to achieve their own dreams in Youth Ministry. This one actually hits a little closer to home for me as I look back to my last full time Youth Ministry position. I had serious job security at the church and never felt at risk of failing by #1 above, however I definitely struggled with not achieving my own dreams and goals. My biggest personal failure was that I wanted over 100 teens in the Youth Ministry within 2 years and struggled to maintain 40-50 teens from year to year, dipping as low as the mid-20s. While I finally figured things about the last 1+ I was there, I often look back on those first 3-4 years there and wonder, “What if…”
- Failure to be the Youth Leader God has called them to be. Now this could be connected to #1, and at least in my case was connected to #2, but this one can sting all on its own at deeper levels that the first two. Greg Stier wrote Ministry Mutiny a few years back and that book speaks to the soul of Youth Leaders who may find themselves in this place. God has called us make disciples who make disciples (Matt 28:18-20). Anything other than discipling teens to make other disciples misses the mark of the ministry God has called us to. I’m thankful that I figured this out before it was too late at my last church…THANK YOU GOD! However this is the highest standard of ministry we can live by, but by God’s grace, as he has called us to Youth Ministry, we can fulfill this purpose in our ministries as He equips us to do so.
Again, thanks to Jeremy for putting his original post out there and spurring the rest of us on to think this through.