You won’t survive if you try to do everything alone.
I have been serving in and/or coaching youth ministry leaders and pastors now for well over a decade. There are several components or keys that I think are important to youth ministry pastors and leaders from my experience. One that I believe to be key is your circle.
Every youth ministry leader and/or pastor needs to have a circle of friends that they can depend on and speak with in times of need. The same way you cannot operate your youth ministry alone and be effective, you cannot do youth ministry without some friends or mentors that you trust and can share with.
I have always had ministry leaders in my circle, in circles above me and even in circles under me. While I can’t remember whom I learned it from, the lesson is that you always need people who are where you are, people who are where you want to be and people who are where you were, so you can help them get to a new level. I’ll unpack those levels another time, but for now, let’s focus on the importance of your circle.
As a youth ministry leader you need a circle of friends because you aren’t that smart. In my experience, my circle of youth ministry pastors and leaders who are friends allow me to ask questions and bounce ideas off of them. This group also helps to expose me to ministry ideas and opportunities that I would not have thought of or seen on my own. We don’t have to worry about being the only person to create “x, y or z,” instead we should expose ourselves to what is new and different.
I can’t tell you how many times I have learned and been able to think in a different way because of my circle of friends in youth ministry. Note here, your circle is better the more diverse it is. My circle of friends don’t all live where I live, and they don’t all look like me; our differences provide opportunities for us to benefit from each other’s perspectives.
Not only do you need a circle because you aren’t that smart, but you also need a circle because “you can’t do ministry alone.” I will be the first to acknowledge that youth ministry is hard and that many youth ministry leaders/pastors burn out within a few years. In light of these facts, we need to make sure that we have a circle of people that we can just speak with about issues and about life. When facing challenging times, it has been a blessing to have friends I can call to talk to or just laugh.
If you don’t have a circle to help you grow at least have a circle to help you deal with the day-to-day or the month-to-month grind of youth ministry. Jesus never meant for you to do ministry alone and if you try, I am sad to say, it may not be long before you aren’t doing youth ministry at all.
Your circle will help you as you serve and you will help your circle as well. If you don’t have a circle please try to build one today, and if your circle isn’t diverse please try to add to it today.