Youth ministry is lonely. Some of that comes with the leadership territory, and some of it is unhealthy. I’d love to reflect on both just a bit.
This is part of the gig! If you are a leader, there are times when you are going to feel lonely. After you make a tough decision to let a volunteer go. After a big conflict with a parent. After a frustration with an elder over the church van. There’s a reason that the phrase “it’s lonely at the top” has stuck around in our vocabulary for so long. At times, if you are leading you will feel all alone.
Lack of Community Lonely
This is the one that is rough on youth workers. This is the one that challenges your call and increases the strength of temptation. This is the one that cuts tenure short and encourages brain games and dysfunction. Yes there is a reality of lonely leadership, but there is a painful loneliness that is different and far more painful. Sitting alone in the church basement office (been there). Being the only guy under 55 on staff at the church (been there). Serving in a church with a lack of people my age (been there). You drop in your situation here (probably been there too).
Couple suggested remedies to fight against loneliness:
1. Make your spouse your ministry partner—do ministry together. If that isn’t possible (hello four kids in my case), download the day together when you walk in the door. Partnership in ministry changes everything. If not your spouse, then someone you can trust, you can be close to appropriately, someone whom you can share ministry with.
2. Find a youth ministry mentor or find a solid network. If there isn’t a good youth worker network in your area, start one. And there’s got to be someone within an hour’s drive of you that has been in youth ministry for a little while—seek them out and start a Taco Bell meet up once a month. Chalupas and conversation = double win!
3. Watch the DYM Webshow. We hear it all the time, “It is like we’re doing youth ministry together with you,” or “See you in a week at our next staff meeting around the DYM table.” Join in on the fun; just might be the remedy for a little bit of community.
What else do you do to help fight loneliness?