Q&A: The strain youth ministry has on my family

I sometimes post the youth ministry questions readers submit, with permission, of course. Figured I’d turn it into a regular series starting today. Please voice your answer in the comments below.

Wes Olsen of Seattle, WA, is currently leaving his Christian school junior high teaching position to enter full-time vocational youth ministry. As he and his family begin the transition, he asks:

What is the strain that being a youth pastor has had on your family?

Hey Wes! That’s a great question. The strain youth ministry has on my relationship with Dana is actually pretty minimal. I think there’s a couple reasons for this.

1. Before we met, we were both youth workers at different churches. I was working part-time at a church while attending seminary and she was the interim youth director at a church near Houston. When we started dating we both already had an idea about the demands of ministry, expectations, and pressure of working in a church environment. There wasn’t a whole lot of adjustment required for her except to shift from being the main Youth Director to being my main supporter.

2. We’re both P.K.’s (Preacher’s Kids), so we each grew up having a “behind the scenes” outlook on ministry. We married somewhat knowing what to expect and how Pastor marriages work.

3. We’re intentional about not letting it strain our marriage. I say “no” all the time, not because I don’t love people or want to serve them, but because I already spent 5 hours in the office and 3 hours out with kids that day. It’s time to go home and hang out with Dana. Rarely do I have meetings in the evenings. In fact, I have an evening meeting at church about once every 3 months or so and that’s it. I arrange my schedule so I’m either home with her or she’s out doing ministry with me.

4. She’s involved in the youth ministry with me, so she has a handle on what’s going on, personalities I work with, and has the same heart for the kids that I do. She understands what I’m talking about when I ask her opinion on various issues we’re facing. Since we do ministry together, it’s less of a strain and more of a mutual affection.


Have a youth ministry question you’d like me and other readers to answer? E-mail it to me! Please keep your question brief and to-the-point. Thanks!

Posted on April 29, 2008

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