Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Youth Pastor Hypocrite...

One of the questions I'm in the process of asking myself is whether my next ministry position will be with students. I've been a professional youth pastor for almost 12 years and I have immensely enjoyed it. It has brought me great joy. It has challenged me. It has helped me develop as a leader. There never seems to be a dull moment. There is so much to love about what I have been able to do.

But I now find myself asking if it is time for a change.

Aside from a brief dream of working behind the camera in the film industry, I have not imagined doing anything aside from student ministry. A few years ago I was approached by a church who wanted to bring me on staff in a role focused on worship and arts. I was promptly made aware that I was not being released from student ministry. I didn't feel like I was "done".

I was the guy who said he was a lifer. I gave my buddies a hard time when they moved on from working with students and started taking on different church leadership roles. I cringed every time one more youth pastor jumped ships to the higher paying, more respectable roles of "anything but youth" pastor.

And now I feel like a hypocrite.

I have friends encouraging me to stick it out. They say that I have much to still offer the student ministry world.

I have other friends encouraging me to try a new role because of what they see in me. They think I'm capable of something different.

Now that I find myself in a perpetual state of limbo (oh the joys of being a student) I thought I would spend some time trying to figure out which direction I would go. I have yet to figure out the answer yet. In fact, it's very hard for me to contemplate life outside of student ministry. But at least I'm asking questions like this:
  • Where will I grow the most?
  • Am I doing what's easy and comfortable?
  • What have I been hardwired for?
  • What's the best fit for my family?
 Anything else you think I should be asking myself?


benyamen said...

I think the most important question I asked myself - and that I always ask others - when I was looking at change was, "What do I love?"

It might seem basic, but I really do believe God created us to do what we love and are passionate about. If he has created you to love student ministry than do it. If you're finding your passions are changing though and you are developing a love for doing something else do that. It's not to say that you just give up when things are hard - I think we often are able to persevere difficulty when we love something - but I don't think God created us to make us do stuff we loathe for his glory. He is most glorified when we are doing what we love and what he created us with the passions to do.

So Mike, do what you love and don't worry about the rest too much. Life is too short not to love what you spend your life doing.

Jon Coutts said...

I guess I'd ask myself why I feel like I might move to a different role? Perhaps you just have to do a gut-check to see if this is still your calling, and perhaps in the process you realize it still is, or else you redirect. Either way, you've been right all these years that youth pastoring is not a "step" to something else, and even if you end up doing something else I don't think it changes that. If that is what people perceive there is nothing you were going to be able to do to change their preconceptions anyway. Enjoy this time of percolating on your vocation, and don't let stereotyped perception play much of a factor. at the same time, it is probably good to ask whether your comfort with this life-vocation is holding you from considering other callings, or is precisely God's affirmation that you're in the right place. Either way, even if you go and be a lead pastor you can keep sounding the horn about how student ministry is the real deal like any other pastorate.

Mike Knott said...

Ben...good question that becomes difficult to answer when it doesn't appear to be a case of what I love more. I love what I have been able to be a part of. I love when I've been able to drift outside that role. I sometimes feel like God is setting me up for a classic "Just choose one."

Jon...yeah, a gut check is probably the best place to start. That might be a good blog post for next week. And I have often asked myself whether I am so comfortable in what I've been doing that I am becoming less confident about stepping into an unknown world. And I know that isn't the answer. But neither is it the answer to step outside what I know and love just for the sake of trying something new. Or it it...

Anonymous said...

I know Jarno could use some help on the farm in the fall. So my question for you to ask yourself would be, how do you feel about pigs??? Think about it ;)

Mike Knott said...

Cheryl...I had a pork burrito yesterday. And while I don't usually like early mornings, I might be willing to make an exception to be a safety supervisor for Jarno.