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Time Out: Yes, youth pastors are REAL pastors

Topic / Time Out

Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)

Some may think that youth pastors are not real pastors, but that definitely is not the case. A youth pastor is every bit as much a pastor as a senior pastor of a mega-church. A pastor is someone with a shepherds heart, and for those in youth ministry God has called them to shepherd youth. While a youth worker may or may not have gifts of teaching, leadership or evangelism, he or she always will have pastoring as part of their spiritual gift mix. Often their mates have it as well.

Are you concerned about the spiritual needs of the youth to whom you minister? Do you long to see them grow in the Lord? Do you have a burden and desire to help them, encourage them, rejoice with them, love them and assist them in any way possible? Do you give of yourself because of a concern for the youth you are ministering to? If these aren’t true and you are in youth work for the pay check, the ego satisfaction, or because you couldn’t say no when someone asked you to work with youth, then you don’t belong in youth work. Youth need and deserve a leader who loves them and cares about them. A shepherd must love his sheep in order to lay down his life for his sheep, and youth pastors lay down their lives for their teenage sheep every day.

The gift of pastor or shepherd is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the body of Christ to assume a long-term personal responsibility for the spiritual welfare of a group of believers. So yes, youth pastors are definitely pastors. The Greek word translated pastor refers to the caring, protecting feeding and leading of sheep. Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd. Since He is not physically on earth, he calls some of us to be assistant shepherds to help care for His sheep. This is a great privilege and a wonderful calling. There is none higher. But it also entails responsibility and accountability. After all, they are his sheep, not ours. He owns them, not us. He brings growth, we are jut the channel He sometimes uses. When they rejoice, we rejoice. But when they stray or are in pain, we hurt with them and for them. In that way we represent Christ and show in a very real way just what Jesus is like. Those we shepherd should see a glimpse of the Great Shepherd in us. What a wonderful privilege and great challenge that is!

Scripture
Ephesians 4:11, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers…”

1 Peter 5:2-3, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”

1 Timothy 4:12-15, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.

Reflect

  • Take some time to identify the gift of pastor (shepherd) in your life. Write down your thoughts and burdens for your sheep.
  • What can you do to be a better shepherd, to be more like the Lord Jesus Christ in how you care for your sheep.
  • Every sheep needs a shepherd. Who is your shepherd? Who do you look to and go to? If you’re trying to function without a shepherd of your own you like a sheep trying to make it on his own. That just doesn’t work for long.
  • Spend some time thanking God for the wonderful privilege He has given you of being a shepherd of some of His sheep!

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Jerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 14 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!


Posted on August 3, 2008

  • Pastor Brad

    I wanted to thank you for this very important post! I am a veteran of about 20 years of youth ministry and am now a “real pastor” of a church. We just hired a gifted young man with a shepherd heart for student ministry and because he didn’t have a degree, some thought he should be given the title “Youth Director”. We looked at some of those same passages as a church council and agreed that he is a pastor of our youth…youth directors have important jobs at the YMCA and Camps but this man is a pastor!

  • AMEN!! Thank you for this post.

  • Pastor B.

    Incredible view point. Us Youth Pastors are real pastors. Because of traditionalism and religion, people just throw titles on us JUST BECAUSE or they would belittle us by callin' us Youth Director or Coordinators. There is a major difference. This is the Kingdom of God and He gave some… pastors. Youth directors are for summer camps and YMCA functions. My heart is that of a pastor and especially towards the flock of God.

  • MJC

    I agree with what you are sharing, but sometimes I wonder if in this argument we are doing what we accuse others doing to us by being combative about this. We have to be careful not to minimize ordination and what that really means

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