Looking back isn’t always easy. Many of us have regrets when we look back on our life and ‘career’ as a youth pastor. We’ve listed four regrets so far in our first post on the 7 regrets of youth pastors: avoiding conflicts, not communicating the vision enough, settling for a low salary and not training a successor. Here are three more regrets many youth pastors have:
5. Not taking care of yourself
As youth pastors, we seem wired to put ourselves last. We take care of everyone else, but we forget to take care of ourselves. Our own physical health, our spiritual health, they don’t get the attention they need to stay healthy. As youth pastor Jason Sansbury tweeted to me:
Having healthy boundaries and especially enough rest (Sabbath!) is of crucial importance if you want to thrive as a youth pastor in the long run.
6. Not building personal relationships with students
It’s easy to get lost in the everyday stress of it all, the organizing and the sermon prep and the coaching of the leaders…to the point where we forget to build relationships with the students. This is what David, a youth pastor emailed me:
I think one of my biggest regrets has been not following up consistently with the youth. It is a little more difficult in a big city because students go to so many different schools it would be nearly impossible to visit every one of their schools on a regular basis.
If we spend more time on programs and organizing and ‘stuff’ than we do with our students, we need to reconsider our priorities. I think the only exception is when your student ministry is so big that your main job is to build personal relationship with your leaders, so that they can build them with the students.
7. Looking for the perfect program
One regret many youth pastors have I think is wasting too much time, energy and maybe even money into finding the perfect program. I think most of the time, the intentions are truly honorable, the youth pastors really want the best way to reach their students. But it’s this lie about the makeability of youth ministry that too often keeps us from doing the things that actually do make a difference.
Do you recognize these regrets? Any regrets of your own you’d like to add?