As youth pastors, we all have expectations put on us. Expectations from our church, leadership, lead pastor, parents, students; the list goes on and on. We even have expectations for ourselves. In many cases, these are mismanaged and lead to frustration, maybe even burnout. So how do we manage the weight of all that is on us? I believe we have to learn to be comfortable with ourselves again. For as long as I can remember, I have felt the burden of being everything for everyone all of the time.
As I stepped into ministry just over two years ago, this issue only grew! I felt immense pressure to live up to standards that people placed on me, even when the things asked by various parties conflicted. When I began retooling our youth ministry, many parents looked to me to break our ministry into junior high and High School. After praying and planning, I didn’t feel that was the direction. I had those who agreed to cheer me on in keeping the ministry “in-tact,” not that split ministries aren’t. I also had parents furious that their high schoolers had to be subjected to the same activities as younger students. I couldn’t win. After numerous experiences like this, I began to grow tired. I slowly slipped into a state of apathy, knowing my decisions would always have blowback from someone. This was when I felt most ineffective!
I was encouraged by an older, wiser pastor of my place in the church. Let me repeat: my place in the church. Sounds weird, right? He told me that decisions would always seem difficult, but I was placed in my ministry context for a purpose. He reminded me of my calling and how hard I fought for it. For the first time in a very long time, I felt confident in who I was and who God called me to be. That conversation was pivotal in moving me from being defeated in my decision-making to being bold with the ministry’s direction.
Now, when I make decisions, I do so, understanding that it won’t please everyone. I know there will be pushback at times; people may even leave my youth ministry. But I know who I am, where I need to lead my students and their families, and what to do to get there. I became more confident as I leaned into my calling. I don’t believe every decision I make is entirely flawless or going to work without any issues or failures, but I do believe in those who have entrusted me to make the decisions I make (God, my staff, parents, etc.), and that removes the weight for me.
We will always have expectations put on us as leaders. But if we want to walk in confidence as we lead, we must understand who we are and why we have been put in the positions we are in. Then, lead from that confidence. We don’t have time to feed egos or pamper people. Make decisions that you feel the Lord leads you to make and trust in Him!
Josh Seaton is the Youth Pastor at Life Pointe Church in Prescott, Arizona.