Overcoming Youth Ministry's Biggest Frustration



Being a Youth Minister/Pastor is a tough job. It can be a lonely ministry position where your role is diminished by people who think you only entertain students once a week or just keep them out of trouble for a few years.

But, that's not the biggest frustration. 

Want to know what is?

The biggest frustration in youth ministry comes after serving students, walking alongside them, preaching sermons, researching and using all kinds of Gospel-sharing styles and tools, trying to prepare them for life after high school, sharing stories in hopes to help them navigate through life's tough times, visiting them at school, showing up to their games, decorating youth rooms, putting retreats together, and facilitating meaningful conversations...

...and then they walk away from their faith, the church, Jesus, and break off all communication with you. Sometimes, they even make decisions that cause you to question whether they ever listened to anything you said. 

Of course, you begin to question yourself, too. 

  • Did I not do enough? 

  • Am I reaching any of them?

  • Is this really my calling?

Frustrating. Painful. Even depressing.

We should all know by now that our role as Youth Minister/Pastor is not to entertain or help students be good, Christian students. Our role is to direct them toward Jesus, develop them as disciples, and deploy them as disciple makers. This is to be a lifelong decision.

But, in youth ministry, there's usually no way of knowing whether the seeds you sowed actually grew. Frustrating.

Just about every job that requires working with students has some sort of checkpoint or benchmark in which they progress to some next level, phase, or grade. Not so much in youth ministry.

Think about it. After they graduate from high school and move on, or away, to college, there's a good chance we never see them again. 

  • Will they make wise choices?

  • Are they going to find a church to attend?

  • Do they still love and serve Jesus?

The questions can go on and on. You may get a few updates from parents about how their son/daughter is struggling in classes or doing well out there. But, you really have no idea how their spiritual journey is going. 

This is where things can get dangerous for youth pastors. The slippery slope of doubt in their calling and effectiveness as a minister can really take a toll on their ministry, family, and health.

So, what's the solution for the youth minister blues that come after a student leaves or moves on from the ministry?

Simple. Just remember this: Sowing is my responsibility so reaping can be someone's blessing.

What exactly does this mean?

It means our responsibility is to do the work of ministry. That's really it!

You may never know if a student continues to serve Christ after he or she leaves. But, that's not our responsibility! True, Christian conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit. You just need to be the vessel and shepherd that loves them well, preaches and models the Gospel, and prays for them. If you've done that, you've sowed responsibly. 

Remember, you're just a piece of the puzzle in their faith journey. Someone else may reap the blessings of your ministry down the road. Your student may move to another state or country and put into practice what you taught them. And you may never know about it. That's okay!

I personally believe that not knowing whether or not your students continue their faith journey after high school isn't all that terrible. 


So you can focus on what you're called to do. Sow! If you always know about your students' faith journeys after they leave the church, it can cause you to take some of the credit either way. Again, that's not your responsibility.

So, keep on keepin' on. Serve faithfully. Serve boldly. Sow without ceasing.


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