Tomorrow will mark six months since I found myself without a youth ministry. And since I have decided, at least for now, not to pursue a youth ministry position, I thought it would be a good time to write about what I miss about it and what I am doing to compensate for these things. #1 The number one thing I miss about being a youth minister is a distant runaway number one. I was a youth minster because I felt a call to work with students. The thing I miss most about youth ministry is those relationships with students.
Working with students is wonderful because it keeps you young. Middle and High school students have boundless energy. Some of it rubs off just be being in their presence. It is wonderful because they are not yet jaded or cynical and there is so much potential for them to do great things for God’s kingdom. And it is wonderful because you get to see them mature and become adults. I still maintain relationships with many of my students from the past. And I try, even if it’s only through Facebook, to keep up with the lives of all my former students. Some students will break your heart, they make poor decisions, drift out of church and follow the world’s way, but there are so many that I am proud of for their choices. At least 2 of my former students are now ministers, and, even though it may be statistically unlikely, most are involved in their churches. On a slightly different note, I do not miss the relationships with parents nearly as much, but never wanted to be antagonistic towards parents, and I never allowed students to disparage their parents. I always valued the opportunity to have influence in the lives of students, and I appreciated their parents for allowing me those relationships.
After leaving my previous church it took me about 3 months to find a new church home. But I am now quite content and I am a regular adult volunteer with the students at Edgewood. Though it is slow going I am beginning to again develop these types of relationships. It’s different, I’m not in charge anymore, but the opportunity is still there.
#2 The second thing I miss is teaching regularly. I really enjoy teaching and as a church staff member I got the opportunity to teach at least 3 times a week for 14 years. I was hoping that my apologetics ministry would fulfill this need in my life, but so far that ministry has yet to get off the ground. Now allow me to praise the youth minister at my church. My appreciation for Joey Snyder is immense. He has allowed me opportunities to teach, and I believe that he views me as an asset. Though he is a better youth minister than I am he still allows me to help. I consider him a good friend and I am always glad to help him out.
How do I fulfill this need to teach regularly? I already said that I hoped my apologetics ministry would take off and I would get the opportunity, but that hasn’t happened. (Please take a minute to visit my website and consider having me lead an apologetics weekend at your church) I am officially the teacher of my Sunday school class, but that is such a different style that it does not quite scratch the itch. Plus I only actually teach every third week. So far, I just really miss this. I try and not lecture my friends and family in normal conversation.
#3 The third thing I miss about being a youth minister is the “identity” issue I talked about when I decided to launch a new ministry. For years I have been Jeremy Mathis: Minister of Youth, now I am Jeremy Mathis: guy who works in a kitchen. It’s a big adjustment, and it’s one I haven’t fully made. I still get an incredible amount of mail regarding youth camps and curriculum and I still want to go to the Lifeway youth ministry conference. All these things have been a part of how I think of myself for a long time and I struggle with this regularly. I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but if my apologetics ministry were to become successful, I believe it would almost completely alleviate the pain of this identity problem.
That’s it. That’s what I miss. I considered writing a “what I don’t miss about being a youth minster” post. But that would be cynical and wrong. Being a youth minister was a great experience for me and I was blessed to have the opportunities I had..