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How to be a Sorry Youth Pastor

Guest Post by Jordan Easley

Jordan Easley serves as student pastor at Second Baptist Church, Houston, where oversees more students than most pastors do people.  I served as a pastor with Jordan’s dad Ernest in a little association west of Fort Worth while in seminary, and as a dad have loved getting to know the younger Jordan and seeing God use him.

Jordan wrote a blog giving the 10 things that will make you a sorry youth pastor. Jordan, a veteran in student ministry who has served small churches as well as Second, says it far better than I could ever put into words.  I will add a little commentary in brackets [] along the way.

10 Things That Will Make You A Sorry Youth Pastor

1. Be a Know-it-All
Everyone loves a know-it-all! (insert sarcasm here) And Youth Pastors are surprisingly known for having all the answers. After all, we’re the most creative. We’re the ones that are out-of-the-box. We’re young… We’re in touch… We know our way around social media and carry smart phones and iPads… Being a know-it-all isn’t a good thing. Some refer to Youth Pastors as being “20-Stupid” because we are so convinced we have all the answers that we become hardened and unshapable. If you want to increase your success, then get into the habit of surrounding yourself with guys older than you; wiser and more experienced and you’ll be surprised at what you will learn.
[The smart student pastor knows what he does NOT know and will seek out wiser, veteran men of God to help him. The most teachable man in the ministry should be the student pastor.]
2. Hide a Lot
Youth Pastors love to hide and not interact with people around them. We hide from other staff members, we hide from parents… some Youth Pastors even hide from certain students. If you want to become ineffective in your ministry,  become someone who hides instead of engages. When you engage in interpersonal relationships with the people you’re surrounded with, your ministry will begin to thrive.
[Avoiding people with whom you do not get along is a great way to teach students by example that Jesus is not big enough to solve their relationship issues.]
3. Dress like a Sloppy Teenager
When did Youth Pastors become exempt from professionalism? I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with Youth Pastors that say, “I just can’t get them to respect me… I can’t get them to trust me… I can’t get them behind me…” and they’re oblivious to the fact that they look like a 28 year old wanna-be-a-Bieber. Someone once told me, “Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.” Hopefully if God’s called you to be a Youth Pastor, you don’t want another job, but you can raise your effectiveness as a ‘Pastor’ if you will first raise your standards on how you conduct & carry yourself.
[Okay, this one is a big one to me. Folks who know me well are aware that I loathe dress codes and obsession with dressing up. But the opposite extreme of dressing like a bum is even worse.  Our son Josh received an award at SEBTS this week. We went out and bought him a sport coat for the event, because although far more comfortable in jeans and a t shirt, Josh knows that showing up like that for an awards ceremony in a seminary chapel is disrespectful and pretty immature.]
4. Talk a Lot
The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 5 that if you talk a lot and don’t listen then you’re a fool. That goes for those of us in the Clergy as well. Youth Pastors have to be careful to use their ears more than their mouths. If you will, it will save you a ton of headaches and heartache in the future.
[Umm busted.]
5. Come to Work Late & Make a Habit of Leaving Early
This goes back to professionalism, and it’s really true in any vocation. If you worked at Starbucks and decided to roll in an hour late and leave and hour before everyone else did… you would be fired. There’s no doubt about it! But many times we use our ‘crazy schedules’ as an excuse to be lazy. If you want to be a sorry Youth Pastor, then be lazy.
[If you have to be supervised 24/7 you need to be in the youth group not leading it. Be responsible.]
6. Fly by the Seat of your Pants
One of the quickest paths to failure is the road of no preparation. I remember my first year in ministry waking up on Wednesday morning and randomly opening my Bible to a passage & then writing my message for that evening out of that text. No purpose behind it. No intentionality. It was a lack of planning and because there was no plan, there was little success.
[I go to student ministries to speak where most of the students do not even bring a Bible. They learn that from student pastors like Jordan describes here.]
7. Ignore the Chain of Command
One of the quickest ways to burn a bridge is to ignore the chain of command. Ministry gets real hard when you don’t have any friends and nobody trusts you. Therefore, if you want to kill any chance of success in ministry, then begin jumping over the head of your boss and running your mouth to the people above him. Be wise and trust the system. Honor the chain of command!
8. Put other Kids Before Your Own Kids
Here’s what many young guys fail to recognize: if you lose your family, you lose your ministry. God never calls a Pastor to put other people’s kids before his own kids. Your wife is your bride, not your ministry. If you want to lose it all, get that backwards for a while.
[I have seen this happen so many times and it is heartbreaking.  Do not sacrifice your own family on the altar of ministry. I have yet to meet a veteran student pastor who said he spent too much time with his children.]
9. Don’t Submit to Your Pastor’s Vision or Philosophy of Ministry
Why should I submit to my Pastors vision? After all, he’s a little out of touch and the vision he’s casting out there is ridiculous… Then leave. Leave if you can’t submit to his leadership and vision and philosophy for ministry. You’ll never be successful if you’re dodging his leadership and can’t submit to it. If you want to be successful in your ministry, then don’t just submit to his vision, be a champion for his vision. Be outspoken and supportive of whatever your leadership is driving!
[Do not run a parachurch ministry while being funded by a local church. Love the church, its leadership, and its vision.]
10. Depend on Your Creativity or Personality for your Success & not on the Power of God
We need to remember how unqualified we really are. You may be a great communicator or a relational genius. You may have 8 degrees from great schools and seminaries. You may be a visionary smooth talking drop-dead gorgeous man of the cloth, but as long as you rely on and depend on everything YOU are instead of every part of who HE is… your ministry is going to be ineffective and weak. Great leaders lead from their knees. Great men of God are humble at the feet of Christ. …and great ministries are led by great men who understand that.

[John Owen said it well: what a man is on his knees, that he is, and nothing more.”]

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Alvin L. Reid (born 1959) serves as Professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he has been since 1995. He is also the founding Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism. Alvin and his wife Michelle have two children: Joshua, a senior at The College at Southeastern, and Hannah, a senior at Wake Forest Rolesville High School. Recently he became more focused at ministry in his local church by being named Young Professionals Director at Richland Creek Community Church. Alvin holds the M.Div and the Ph.D with a major in evangelism from Southwestern Seminary, and the B.A. from Samford University. He has spoken at a variety of conferences in almost every state and continent, and in over 2000 churches, colleges, conferences and events across the United States.