In my previous blog, I talked about how awesome older people are.
This time, I wanted to highlight a very important older person from my life, my father. He was a youth pastor for many many years, and he was my first role model on what to do to be a successful student minister.
1. You’re never too old
I’ve heard of churches not hiring youth pastors because they are older than 30. Those churches would have missed out on a great youth pastor in my dad.
I’ve learned that to relate with teens, you don’t have to be the same age. You don’t have to look like them. You certainly don’t have to smell like them (that was a joke, teens smell ok). But having the same energy as them can be incredibly effective.
I remember countless times where my father would be in the middle of a conversation with a bunch of high schoolers, and he would say something that would make them all laugh. Then he’d do something weird like challenge someone to a staring contest or arm wrestling contest. To wrap it up, he’d then refuse to ever admit defeat and act like he won every time.
It’s energy that matters, not age.
2. Relationships matter
Looking back, I remember countless times where students would want to simply sit down with my father and talk about life. They’d bring up their grades, home struggles, relationship problems, many things to my father who would then proceed to make them laugh about it and give some practical wisdom.
Why did people go to my dad? Because he was excellent at making relationships with students. First impressions with students were something Dad had a gift with. There was a sense of openness that my dad always brought to the table.
It’s true that student will be more engaged if there at a church with a good friend. It goes even deeper when a good friend of theirs is the pastor at youth group. Always strive to build relationships with your students, they’ll want to know Christ more if you’re friendly.
3. Family comes before Ministry
The biggest decision my father ever made was to quit being a pastor in order to be a better husband and father. He knew that he was putting in a lot of time and being a minister to several people is stressful on the mind.
I recently had to make a similar decision for my wife. I realized that I didn’t have a lot of time at home, and most of the time I was at home I was thinking and stressing about what I was going to teach for the youth next Sunday.
After praying about it, I finally decided to step away and focus on my wife. Our first anniversary is coming up, and I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to be thinking about what the next awesome game was going to be for youth group.
My dad was a rockstar, and I’m glad I grew up in a home with someone like him.