I enjoy reading the posts that Josh Griffin puts on his “More Than Dodgeball” blog. I have borrowed some creative ideas, cool videos and other youth ministry insights from what he writes. In a recent post he shared something he had put together about Youth Ministry at age 40 verses age 20. Since I fit into the former category as opposed to the latter, I was interested in what he had to say and agreed with several of his thoughts on it, especially the last part regarding credibility and longevity.
Here’s what he wrote:
Name some things you can do at 40 that you could never have done at 20. Being 36 … I take a little offense to this question. But I do have a growing “black list” of things I’ll never do in youth ministry again. And I definitely do things differently 15 years in. The most exciting thing I can do with this age and experience is assure students that “I’ve seen it all” – they can share whatever is going on in their life and I won’t be shocked. I think I’ve heard of, dealt directly with, and am prepared for whatever mess students can make with their lives. I don’t think I could have said that in my earlier years.
What are some things you know at 40 that you wish you has known at 20. I think I can see now how rich and rewarding long-term youth ministry is – I think as a young youth pastor I saw the day-to-day pain of senior pastor relationships, poor time management and students screwing up their lives to appreciate the perspective of the wise old Yoda that I am now. Ha. Look like Yoda, I do, wise I am not.
What are some things you no longer do at 40 that you used to do at 20. The obvious answer is overnighters … but we still do those on occasion and honestly I look down on youth workers who refuse to do them. Just kidding. I think I used to worry more about keeping my job when I was 20, I used to worry more about how God would provide for my family. I used to worry about making everyone happy. I used to worry about … well, everything. I wonder sometimes if I should worry MORE now than I do, because I don’t anymore.
What are the benefits of growing older and remaining in youth ministry? I think there’s a certain credibility that comes of age. I think you don’t strive to be cool, you just want to care. I think there’s a rewarding aspect to mentoring other youth leaders that is really exciting. Most of all, it is seeing the teenage lives that God changed now grown up and doing His work. Some you thought would be incredible are … others flamed out. Some you prayed for but gave up on came back to Him and He did some amazing things with them. Who knew? Fun to see it from a few years down the road.