There is a danger I’m taking in writing this letter while currently serving as a Youth Pastor as this could appear to be a passive-aggressive attempt to communicate with my own Senior Pastor. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. I love my Senior Pastor and talk openly with him on a regular basis. This letter comes from 5 years of being a Youth Pastor and spending 5 years talking with other Youth Pastors. My intent in writing this fictitious letter is to encourage honest dialogue between Senior Pastors and Youth Pastors.
Just like Senior Pastors, every once in a while there is a Youth Pastor that is simply “bad.” The following will not help in aiding a Senior Pastor’s relationship with a “bad” Youth Pastor. He should probably just be fired.
Dear Senior Pastor,
For a while now I’ve been meaning to tell you the following three things:
1. Please know that I don’t want your job! I really don’t! I’m a good communicator. Maybe even better than you because my audience forces me to be. (Teenagers have to be the most fickle audiences.) I’ve actually been offered opportunities to pursue a job like yours…and I don’t want it! I see how people treat you. I see how people place such high expectations on you and your family. I see how you are required to solve every problem from the drums being too loud during the last song to why a loving God would allow Mary’s mother to get cancer. I see how you need to be all things to all people at all times. Now in some ways the same is asked of me as the Youth Pastor, but unlike me, you can’t say “Hey, I’m just the youth guy.” Did I mention, I really don’t want your job?!
2. Please know the hard parts of my job and acknowledge to me that you know it’s hard. Care about my job. Genuinely care. Like noted in #1, I am dealing with the most fickle of all humans, teenagers. There are days that I think, why don’t they like me? How could 5 of my best leaders “take a break” from our youth group and go with their buddy Tim to his youth group? Also, most of the time I talk about our brokenness and our neediness and Jesus as the Healer and Savior, I am met with blank stares or worse faces lit by iPhones. Because most of my teenagers have “good” parents, because their parents work really hard to provide for them a “good” life and protect them from the world and often times even their own selves…they don’t really see a need for Jesus. He isn’t practical to them. I need you to remind me that what I’m doing is important and that it matters. I need you to tell me that I might not see results today, but when this teenager screws it up bad in college (and she will…every single one of them…even or maybe especially the home-school ones), maybe she will remember the Gospel that I preached to her today and believe then.
3. Please know I want you to care about me. Actually, the previous two don’t really matter. Just this one. My passion as a Youth Pastor is to provide teenagers with what I longed for as a teenager. To have someone take an interest in me. To love me and tell me I have what it takes. To usher me into adulthood. (I didn’t really have that which doesn’t excuse but might explain some of my sophomoric behavior and poor choices.) I look up to you. Like I said, I don’t want your job, but in many ways I want to be like you. Your faithfulness, your perseverance, your compassion. Show me how you survive a job that from my view, since I’m already being honest, looks pretty sh*tty…because in doing that I really believe you will show me Jesus.
Thank you for all you do…now can we hang?
A Youth Pastor
Senior Pastors, seriously, thank you for all you do…now go and love your Youth Pastor!
So glad it’s all about grace.