You’re not actually passionate about youth ministry

Vision for MinistryA few weeks ago I posted this on the Life In Student Ministry Facebook page:

AGREE OR DISAGREE: You’re passionate about youth ministry, but what you’re truly passionate about is actually something much deeper inside you. Youth ministry is just how you express that passion.

The comments that followed proved to provide a lot of fodder for thought.

My take? Our passion for youth ministry is actually fueled by something else. We say we’re passionate for teenagers, for their families, and for being a spiritual influence in their lives, but there’s actually something deeper in us that drives that passion. Youth ministry is just how we express it. You’re not actually passionate about ministry in and of itself.

Once you identify what that deeper passion is, chances are good that there are several other ways you could express that passion outside of youth ministry and find it to be just as fulfilling.

It sounds a bit blasphemous at first. “What?! Pursue something outside of youth ministry?” *gasp!*

But here’s what I learned once I started expressing my deeper, driving passion in other ways besides youth ministry: it complements my ministry efforts in amazing ways I never anticipated. In fact, I understand ministry and how I express that in my life far greater now than I ever have before. Sometimes it just takes looking at the driving passion through a couple different lenses to really put it’s ministry expression into focus.

Furthermore, it frees me up to be more flexible to other ways God may want to use me. Seeing what the passion truly is removes a lot of the tunnel vision that naturally occurred when I was serving in full-time, vocational ministry.

As a result, ministry is now a much more integrated part of who I am than ever before… because it’s driven by a deeper passion.

QUESTION: What is it that you’re truly passionate about that fuels you in ministry? How else could that passion be expressed outside of youth ministry?

Posted on January 24, 2013

  • Dysmans

    I think it depends on where that passion is coming from, is it a personal passion or something God has placed in you. I believe it’s important to be open to change and to definitely listen to what God is saying but I also know that we can let frustrations and tough situations in youth ministry cause us to look for new places to follow God’s will that aren’t necessarily his plan. I know my deeper passion and I honestly believe my role as a youth minister is where I can best use it at this time. What I am learning to do is adjust the way I do youth ministry to allow my passion to be a more effective tool.

  • Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about something, that while rooted in cultural semantics, that has been taken away due to the change in one word in the YM world which I think may reflect what you are saying here Tim. We have taken away the spiritual gift with the slow shift in words. Here it is. Youth “Pastors” have become Youth “Workers”. I know it is a subtle thing and I know we are covering the spectrum of those who “work” in a church alongside young people, and I am not looking for a theological debate on gifts vs. titles, or whatever, but I am looking at the heart feeling that both of those words give me when I hear them. I realize we are co-laborers and co-workers with Christ and I get that, but what I am getting at is exactly what you are saying. My desire and passion is to “pastor” people, and my outlet currently is youth ministry. Think about it if we flipped the words around Pastor Youth or Work(er) Youth. When I think of myself as a pastor to youth and their families that has so much more weight in my heart that I am relying on the Holy Spirit to do what only he can do through me. Also I know with the workers, that not all of those workers feel as though they have the gift of pastor/shepherd/teacher. So, I think our heart passion Tim, is to pastor. Can we pastor people outside the walls of our buildings, absolutely, so long as we are directing them to the family of God/body of Christ. Hope that makes sense.

    • It does make sense and I agree. Scripture doesn’t talk about “youth pastor” or “children’s pastor” or “adult pastor.” Being a pastor is primarily a spiritual gift, something about who we are which is reflected in what we do, NOT the other way around as I can now see was the case for me years ago. It’s so easy for our identity to get wrapped up in what we do that it starts to define who we are. It’s such an easy trap. If being a pastor truly becomes something that you are, then watching the flesh itself out in areas of life other than youth ministry can really bring a lot of clarity to the youth ministry efforts. (And you’re right, I use “youth worker” because there are a lot of non-paid, youth volunteers who read this site, too, both with and without the gift of pastoral ministry.)

      But I’d say you could still probably take it a layer or two deeper than being a pastor. That’s still pretty general because there are a lot of people with that gift. What is it about Tim Schmoyer that drives my passion for pastoral ministry? Our first response is probably to say, “Because I love God,” or something general like that. And while I’m glad that’s true, being a bit more specific may help.

      • QUESTION: What is it that you’re truly passionate about that fuels you in ministry? How else could that passion be expressed outside of youth ministry?

        “you could still probably take it a layer or two deeper than being a pastor.”

        Layer deeper

        Seeing people’s eyes and hearts open to the truth of Scripture so that they__________________. (Lots I could fill in the blank with). This can happen outside of youth ministry as God’s words are always on our lips ready to speak His truths and not just our own thoughts.

        Layer deeper

        The Pleasure of God is the fuel.

        Phil 2:13 “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure”.

        Yes absolutely the will of God working through us for his pleasure and his pursuits instead of our own can happen anywhere in any situation and not just in youth ministry.

        1 Corinthians 1:21
        For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

        Colossians 1:18-20
        18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

        Hebrews 11:5
        By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.

        2 Peter 1:17
        For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” **Notice the Father said this before Jesus had his 3 years of ministry. God’s pleasure is not based upon our works, but him working through us to accomplish his will.

        Ezekiel 18:32
        For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

        • Good stuff, Brett. Awesome to see you thinking through this. Hope it continues!

  • Peter Ahn

    Perhaps there’s more passion toward people (which also is an expression of love toward God) than the ministry. Sometimes it feels a bit awkward to say I’m a youth pastor, as if my love for the community is somehow designated toward a particular group of people. I see youth ministry as a particular function/task/role I happened to be entrusted with by my congregation. Perhaps love for God is tied to who I am and my sense of belonging, while youth ministry is what I resolve to do about the understanding of my being (or how the passion is channeled).

  • Minister’s in yorba linda

    It is actually the love for Jesus that drives us to become a youth Pastor.

New eBookGo
Focused Youth Ministry ebook

85% off!

Focused Youth Ministry

This practical "how to" ebook will walk you through a 30-step process to discovering God's vision for your unique ministry context. The process also shows you how to implement that vision and put metrics in place to evaluate what is moving the vision forward and what isn't.

Price: $12.95 Limited time: $1.99