Last week Doug Fields shared the story of a youth pastor who was recently fired from his church. It’s crazy how many of the comments are youth workers saying, “Dude, that sounds just like my situation when I was fired!” The comments on my own post about being fired indicate the same. Are churches really this hostile of an environment for youth workers or do we all have glaring issues that gets us fired?
Having been fired over 6 months ago from my former church, I can say a couple things to this guy and other youth workers who have been recently fired.
1. The hurt will last longer than you think. Here we are, 6 months later, and not a day goes by where I don’t think about the situations, how they were handled, and the people involved. Each time I have to catch myself, re-extend forgiveness, remember that it’s in the past and that God is using this to prepare us for something else, whatever that is. I figured I’d be dealing with the emotions of this for a while, but I never thought it would go on for 6 months. In some ways, the pain still continues to grow, as my wife talked about in her vlog a couple weeks ago. For me personally, most of the hurt doesn’t come from the fact that I was terminated, but from the injustice of it all… similar (but not really) to the injustice Christ experienced on the cross for my sin.
2. Take your time getting back into a church ministry position. As a guy, I know there’s the immediate feeling of, “I need to find a job and provide for my family!” but I’m doing that the best I can outside the church for a while. I love volunteering as a youth leader at our new church, which has helped re-energize me about youth ministry, but I know if I was the paid guy I’d respond to any negative situation emotionally and unfairly. I need to become emotionally and spiritually healthy myself before I can serve in that capacity again, for both my sake and the sake of the next church.
3. Use your free time for yourself for a while. For me, this was a perfect opportunity to really pray through, “God, what capacity exactly have you created me for service to you?” I always thought it was to serve teens and families in a church context, but after having served in a several churches, there’s several things about a typical church that doesn’t align with my values and priorities. (More about that in a later post.) But if not church, then what? Reading through books like, “48 Days to the Work You Love,” and, “No More Dreaded Mondays,” have helped me narrow that focus a bit.
4. Staying in town can be tough. We live in a small town where it’s easy to run into people from our old church whenever we go out shopping, to eat, or just to play at the park with the kids. Most people we’re excited to see because we don’t get to see them every week like we used to, but others can be awkward. And then there’s trying to make room for the new person the church hires while you’re in town and the kids still want you to be involved with them (and we want to be involved, too!). It just gets very complicated. It seems like it would be easier to move, but we’re still here because I feel strongly that I don’t want to just move away from something, I want to move to something else.
I’m just not sure what that is yet.
Posted on May 31, 2011