Disclaimer: I am one of the fortunate youth ministers to be able to work with a great staff and wonderful elders who respect our job titles and let us focus on what we were hired and trained to do. So this rant isn't about me, but rather what I've observed and continue to observe churches doing to discourage and burn out youth ministers.
Look, churches. Elderships. Leaderships. PLEASE listen.
I'm so sick of seeing friends drop out of ministry. Good friends who were good ministers who were doing God's work to help young people and their parents get to heaven and they drop out of ministry just because they can't take any more bellyaching. Goodness. Youth Ministers are people too. We're people who make mistakes and have families and hobbies and go on vacations (when we can afford it and we're not paying off students loans). We have feelings too, so stop making out like we don't by talking behind our backs or better yet, publicly speaking out against us.
Who did you hire? A youth minister or a superhero? We can only do so much. We make half what pulpit ministers make and do the same amount of more, maybe more in the summer. We do the same amount of the work because you're constantly piling stuff on for us to do. We're not just the youth minister, we're the education director, tech support, website administrator, song leader, part-time "associate" minister, children's program director, class teacher on Sundays and Wednesdays, VBS coordinator, Summer Camp coordinator, DayCamp coordinator, and a couple of other things that we forgot about because we're trying to get all the other stuff done. So who did you hire and why don't you let me do what I was trained to do, and what I'm best at instead of piling everything up on me until I quit?
And another thing: I'm not the savior of your kids, Jesus is. I'm not the leader of your children's lives, their parents are. I can only, at most, be a guide. I can teach kids thoughtful lessons that I spend hours preparing. I can plan fun events and and do fun things with them and magnify Christ in those things. I can have discussions with parents and teens about how to work through problems.
What I can't do is everything. I can't teach on Sunday morning, preach that same morning, do a devotional for the older people that Sunday afternoon, lead singing that Sunday night and do a devotional for the kids afterwards. I am not Carl Lewis. I cannot do everything. And when you try to put everything on me, it's just going to burn me out and make me resent ministry, and maybe even the church.
Elders, Leaders, parents: LISTEN. When you are looking to hire me, do not look at me as your workhorse, look at me as your partner to help your kids get to heaven. Treat me as a person, not a robot.