I really want to smoke weed.

I’ve never once in my 28 years had the slightest desire to smoke weed…until now.

Why now? Why is there an inescapable burning in the bowels of my being to smoke weed?

Because I’m a youth pastor.

Seriously, the reason I want to smoke weed IS because I am a youth pastor. I have racked my brain for weeks trying to uncover where this unmentionable desire is rooted and I can’t think of another reason or other change in my life that would bring about such a yearning. So, I have concluded the blame rests solely on my profession.

It is a hard, at times unbearable, profession…but wait, have I forgotten that I get paid to just hang out with teenagers all day, buy Venti Java Chips on the church credit card and go paint-balling?! (Did I mention I get paid?!)

So why then do most youth pastors last only 18 months?

Doctors and psychologists say that the human brain isn’t fully formed until the age of 22. As youth pastors, we are not working with fully formed humans!

This morning, I was reading in Luke 6 (my goal was to read through all four Gospels during Lent…as I am writing this, Easter has come and gone, and I still have Matthew, John and most of Luke to read) and came across the familiar story of the wise and foolish builders.

We lay the foundation

I started to think about our calling as youth pastors and what role we would take on a construction site. We are part of the foundation laying team (along with parents, teachers, even peers). Our work doesn’t take place above ground, but below. Scientifically speaking, the building isn’t done for 22 years.

Unfortunately, we are often coerced—maybe even forced—to ignore our role as foundation layers, and we begin to try and do work to which we aren’t called. The building’s façade is not our problem!

The senior pastor wants our ministry to be thriving and relevant (meaning our numbers should be up…even if his aren’t)…

Parents want their kids fixed (not unlike a dog…sex and teenagers is scary…remember…I do)…

We desperately want to be liked (there’s a reason I drive a Jeep and brush my teeth).

We could easily spend all of our time making our students look good because more than likely, as youth pastors who last an average of 18 months, we will be long gone when the storm hits and the foundation or lack thereof is revealed.

Lay a foundation of grace

Although it may get us fired, I am certain that if the foundation we lay is grace (even with its inherent “risk” of abuse), the building, even if it doesn’t look very pretty, will remain standing long after Starbucks declares Chapter 11 and paint-ball is no longer a fun but painful activity.

I do apologize for the horrible exegesis of this sacred text…just one more reason I am not a “real” pastor, but only a youth pastor.

Unlike Steve who can say to pastors, “Been there, done that and got the t-shirt,” I’m just there.

I hope you will join me and other brothers and sisters “who don’t really work” in the new youth pastors’ forum as we share stories, confess sins and encourage one another. Because what we do matters…a lot. Ask any builder.

See you in the forums!

And if you read an anonymous confession to smoking weed, don’t assume it’s me.

So glad it’s all about grace.

Zach