What is the top of the youth ministry world? When will you have arrived? Is it about the number of students in your ministry? Is it about working at a particular church? Is it when you get to travel and speak? Is it when you get to speak at main stage for Youth Specialties?
Every career has a ladder, and student ministry is no different.
Let’s just take high school education as an example. The basic corporate ladder goes something like this: substitute teacher, teacher’s aid, classroom teacher, head of department, assistant principle, principle. Then, if you have sights higher than that particular high school, assistant superintendent and, finally, superintendent.
But this isn’t the top of the ladder. From superintendent, there is an entirely different ladder to climb ending with, who knows, the governorship or even the president of the united states.
The crazy thing is that some people have absolutely no desire to be anything but an instructional aid. They know who they are and what they are gifted to do, and they fully live into it. One of my best middle school volunteer staff is this person. She is a total gift to her school and does her job with passion and grace.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who are never satisfied with where they are and are continually looking toward the next thing, the higher rung. While ambition is actually a good thing, the dark side is that the overly ambitious person never gets to be fully satisfied. To spend your entire life climbing a ladder, being single minded in this pursuit, actually changes the way the brain works. If you spend your entire life in a state of pursuit, you won’t know what to do or how to feel once you have arrived. In order to find peace, one must continue to pursue, something, anything.
There is a Fine Balance:
We are all uniquely gifted and called into ministry. We don’t want our overinflated ego taking us places we have no business going, nor do we want false humility to self-sabotage the thing God might be percolating inside of us. If you are called to a particular rung on the ministry ladder and know it, love it and are grateful for it, then settle in and do the good work that you have been called to do.
If you have a dream of something bigger and better in ministry, then you have some work to do. All over scripture are stories like Joseph’s or David’s, who have been given a larger vision of who they are then who they were. Both of them were insignificant, youngest brothers, told that they would be people of power and influence. But both of them suffered some really dark days before that dream was realized.
I do think that God gives us a vision of who we are called to be. Sometimes our pride takes that too far, or our false humility shuts it down. But as we walk closer and closer with Jesus and he continues to mold and shape us, hopefully we can die to our pride, give up our false humility and be all that God has us to be.
The challenge is discerning if being all that means staying put or moving on. May God be gracious with you as you wrestle through that question.