Gimme a Break!

When it comes to our youth ministry leaders, it’s a common tendency to fall into the mindset of “keeping them at all costs”.  We fear losing them forever and we sometimes fail to see that it might be worth suffering some short-term pain for some long-term gain.

There are many reasons why leaders leave ministry, including (but not limited to) burnout, lack of support/guidance, lack of training, lack of opportunities for growth, conflicts within the team/ministry, change of heart/desire, feelings of inadequacy or insignificance, changes in life/family/job, moral failures and not feeling appreciated/affirmed.

When one of our leaders comes to us and desires a break because of one or more of the above reasons, we must have the foresight and humility to grant the request.  I would much rather have someone take some time off from youth ministry leadership to get his business in order and come back stronger than keep someone for too long and then have him quit forever.    

Like many things in ministry, it sounds simple in theory but it’s not easy in practice.  Often, it’s hard to find good youth ministry volunteers so we’d rather cut off one of our limbs than lose one.  We worry about how someone stepping down looks to the teens, parents and other church members.  We try to convince them that things will eventually work themselves out and they should just keep on keeping on.

But if the leader is not in the right frame of mind, then keeping him on the team is doing him, the teens, and the ministry overall a disservice.

Youth ministry is not just about leading young people to an encounter with Jesus Christ.  It’s also about mentoring and leadership development.

When one of our leaders tells us he needs a break, let’s have the wisdom to grant his wish.

It’s simply the right thing to do.

  • Anonymous

    Clayton, I ‘hear’ you loud and clear! I had to just up and leave youth ministry, and it hurt me to the core of my soul! The cause? Conflict with the YM Coordinator. I could no longer deal with his procrastination, lack of organization, and most of all, his propensity to micromanage. He would ‘allow’ volunteers to put together a Life Night, then totally rework it after that team worked so hard so hard to put it together. All of the volunteers worked had full-time jobs, and several of them still had small children at home, as well.

    That was 18 months ago, and I *still* feel like I’ve lost my purpose in life. It’s very depressing.