Worried youth workers worry me. I see so many men and women who are facing burn out, enduring constant scrutiny, and bearing the weight of others’ expectations. These men and women lack self-confidence, tend to make decisions out of fear, and allow worry rather than mission to consume their thoughts and drain their energy. Let me say this to worried youth workers: it doesn’t have to be like this.
“Youth workers allow worry rather than mission to consume their thoughts and drain their energy.”
Let me remind you of these five promises from God’s Word:
Worried about numbers
When you’re worried about numbers, remember that God looks at the heart. The most common question asked of youth workers is, “How many students were at youth group this week?” And while numbers may be the world’s easiest measurement of success, God’s version of success looks more like changed hearts than high numbers. He states this directly in 1 Samuel 16:7, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” When we consider God’s priorities, we can spend less time worrying about the size of our ministries and more time focused on teaching students about the Savior who rescues and changes their hearts.
Nervous about pay
When you’re nervous about pay, trust that God will provide for your needs. Money and anxiety oftentimes go hand in hand. Underpaid youth workers worry that they might have to change jobs or leave the ministry, and they are prone to distrust church leaders who set the terms of their paycheck. We must remember that we serve a God who is able to “meet all [our] needs, according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:18). Not only that, but our same God has declared that “the worker deserves his wages” (1 Timothy 5:18). We need not worry about what God has promised to provide. To learn how to get paid what you’re worth in youth ministry, look back at this earlier post.
Afraid of inexperience
When you’re afraid of your own inexperience, remember that God promises wisdom to those who ask. I talk with youth workers all the time that have no idea on how to do their jobs. They are without training and mentors, and they are terrified of being found out. God, however, isn’t at all concerned with our inexperience or our weakness; his track record proves it. And his promise in James 1:5 is true. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault.” Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know; the Lord will give you everything you need to be an effective minister in his Kingdom.
Concerned about parents
When you’re concerned about parents, remember that God promises to give you the words to speak. Most youth workers don’t feel like they have the experience to work with parents, and it becomes their tendency to avoid them or pretend like they don’t exist. We’re not alone in this fear. Jeremiah made the same claim when the Lord first called him as a prophet to Judah. He says in Jeremiah 1:6, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” But the Lord responds with, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you” (Jeremiah 1:7-8). The Lord promises to give us what to say, and he says there is no reason to be afraid of pursuing even the most difficult conversations with parents.
Anxious about competition
When you’re anxious about competition, remember that the gospel must be preached all over. We tend to wonder if the program down the street will be more attractive to our students, and we feel pressure to have activities that are better than nearby ministries. But the Lord is clear in Matthew 9:37-38, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” We need more ministers, not fewer, if we’re to reach more students for Christ. Competition becomes less important when we remember that we’re on the same team and living out the same mission.
Therefore, do not worry about numbers. Don’t lose sleep over your paycheck or dwell on your inexperience. Don’t avoid parents out of fear or be anxious about someone who is not your competition. Instead, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have a dog that thinks he is their only child. Diesel is a 70-pound Weimaraner who never leaves their side.