Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (NIV)
The more years a youth pastor gets under his/her youth ministry belt, the easier it is to lose empathy for Jesus, students, and the church. Repetition, pain, fatigue, cynicism, and jadedness tend to leak water on the fire. Remember those first years of youth ministry and how amped you were to be serving the kids and church?
Most youth workers will at some point have a few tough seasons in the church world. Plus, it is really hard to keep a fresh and passionate perspective when you have seen and heard it all. Nothing is new. There is no excitement, movement, or passion for what originally got all of us involved in youth ministry.
One of the most important factors when working in the world of youth ministry is having heart!
MY FIRST YOUTH MINISTRY JOB
Honestly I got my first paid youth ministry gig because I had zeal. I should have never gotten it. There were tons of more qualified applicants. I had no experience in youth ministry, I was only attending church for about 2 consecutive years, I was really young, I never did a youth ministry internship, I never read a youth ministry book, I had a very weak theology and ecclesiology, I was soooo unfamiliar with church culture, and I was way too preppy and still stuck in my college jock-frat days. But for some reason the Associate Pastor that hired me didn’t care. I asked him after the interview process why he hired me. He said, “I believe in you because you have a fire for Jesus that is rare and you are our guy to revitalize this youth group.”
In order to make it in youth ministry you cannot lose heart. Ministry education, experience, talent, and technique can only get a youth pastor so far. There are too many distractions in church youth ministry that can easily and instantly kill the zeal of a youth pastor.
HOW THE DEAD GUYS DESCRIBED ZEAL
Charles Spurgeon described zeal as:
Having sleepless hours, weeping eyes and bursting hearts for the lost. The heart is heavy with grief and vehement in desire, yet with holy ardour it pants for God’s glory.
Martin Luther had zeal because:
He was in it up to his neck, and always on the verge of ‘losing it’ in his zeal to reform the Catholic Church.
Paul had a zealous attitude because:
He had a courageous, joyful resignation to the will of God. Because he was crucified to the world and its pleasures, he didn’t count his life dear to himself, but joyfully finished the course God set for him.
MY FINAL COMMENTS
I can truthfully say the only thing that has kept me in youth ministry is my insane passion for Jesus and students. Having heart means you repeatedly get right back up (while smiling) and continue to faithfully do youth ministry.
I think this next generation needs to hear more about how Jesus has changed and is changing our lives. Passionately talking about how Jesus has transformed our lives should never get old. Plus it may light some old fire in our ministering soul.
The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.
– Vince Lombardi