Dan Haugh is the Pastor of Student Ministries at Bedford Community Church in New York where he as served for the past eight years. He is also an adjunct professor of youth ministry at Nyack College and is a contributor for the new Immerse Journal and writer and trainer for Barefoot Ministries. Though living in NY and married to a Yankee fan, he is still an avid Red Sox fan and named his dog Brady after the Patriots quarterback.
Dan writes at www.emergingyouth.wordpress.com
Dan Haugh what is one thing (only one thing) you want to tell the youth pastor population?
In my ten years of youth ministry, the one thing I have discovered is to be yourself. This may sound simple conceptually, but in actuality is a very challenging feat.
If youth pastors constantly feel the need and strain to please everyone, you quickly get discouraged and find yourself frustrated. Sometimes the expectations come from within.
We are often the ones raising these unrealistic (and often legalistic) bars that weigh ourselves and others down.
Too often youth pastors succumb to the pressures of the masses and conform to their expectations of 1) what we should teach 2) how we should live 3) what movies we should watch 4) who we should spend our time with 5) how we should spend our time 6) what we should or should not eat or drink…..you get my point.
The list can go on and on if we let it. Living and ministering like this will ultimately drain the joy from who you are and what you do (and quite often disconnect you from your students, passion, and sense of a calling to a point where you start looking for a different environment).
The key is living authentically.
Transparency and authenticity are the keys to effective life-long ministry.
Be authentic first and ministry will follow.
So let me ask you, when you get up (or sit down) to teach your students, who is actually standing up? The real you, the “pastor” version of you, or the “cool” version of you that you think they want to see?
Youth pastors, ask yourselves this question: Am I ministering out of who I really am or the type of youth pastor I think I need to be?
I think that only when we can be confident and comfortable with who we are and how God made us, can we truly minister from within.