At least once a week I hear a story of a youth worker who got fired …
… or was asked to leave.
After dozens of stories, I realized these weren’t random events.
People were getting fired for the same reasons every single time.
That meant that lost ministry jobs weren’t random chances …
… but instead predictable outcomes.
There are three very easy ways to get yourself fired.
Do the work now to avoid them later.
Let’s start with what’s NOT on this list.
You’ll find no mention of boundary issues, sexual sin or any of the other scandalous transgressions that get people fired and make headlines.
Of course, we know that these things happen. We’ve read the horrible stories about them. But I’m not writing about them today because …
… you already know about that stuff, and anyway, they don’t constitute the largest percentage of ministry failure.
Ministry failure is not generally due to big controversy, but instead a series of small, repeated mistakes.
What you’ll see in this list is that messing any of them up once is unlikely to carry heavy consequences …
… but if you allow these seemingly innocuous mistakes to become a defining habit, you’ll quickly and seriously be in trouble.
Want to keep your job? Don’t do these things:
1. Mismanage budgeted money.
Depending on your theology, you’re either working with God’s money or other people’s money, and either way, it’s not yours.
You have a responsibility to steward the resources you’ve been given, and that means you need to figure out what you’re doing.
You might not have the background or skills to be a budget wizard, but it’s something you can certainly work at.
Bottom line, if you continually lose, waste or mismanage the church’s funds, you’ll be looking for a new gig pretty quickly.
2. Fight with your senior pastor publicly.
If you spend any time around youth workers, you’ve heard one or 20 complain about their church’s leadership.
And while there’s nothing wrong with just venting, there is something wrong with venting on your Facebook wall or to a congregation member.
If it’s public knowledge that you’re fed up with your church, people will wonder why you’re there …
… and then you won’t be anymore.
3. Show up late for your own events.
Not only is this behavior demonstrative of irresponsibility, it’s also incredibly disrespectful of people’s time.
Believe me, it was probably a far more difficult ordeal for Mrs. Jones to orchestrate her family’s schedule so that Tommy would arrive on time …
… than it was for you to wake up from your nap.
Anyone with a secular job knows what would happen if they showed up late for work more than about twice.
You can expect the same thing to happen to you.
These are a few of the most common indicators.
Of course, there are hundreds of different ways that you can manage to lose your job. Someone could probably start an entire blog dedicated to cataloging the different reasons youth workers have lost their jobs.
And yes, there are plenty of good and effective youth workers who lose their jobs for no good reason at all.
Many of these reasons were not the primary reason that a person was terminated, but at least one of them was present nearly every time.
Keep in mind, if any of these three items currently describes you, I hope you’ll start making a few changes.
If you’ve overcome any of these firable problems, I’d love to hear about how you did it, so tell me about it!