Two weeks ago Adam McLane and I were in Haiti sitting with one of our Haitian translators. The translator asked me, “Are you a youth pastor?” I replied that I am. He turned to Adam and asked the same thing. Adam explained that he used to be a youth pastor, but now he works for Youth Specialties. Our translator pushed back and said that Adam is still a youth pastor even if he doesn’t work at a church. Adam didn’t really agree with him and, without missing a beat, our translator shot back, “You are always a pastor because being a pastor is your spiritual gift, not your title. Even if you don’t work at a church, you are still a pastor.”
The conversation quickly turned to my last name and how I’m a Nazi like Hitler because I have a German last name (don’t ask lol), but I’ve been thinking about what he said. Being a pastor is not just a title we’re assigned because we’re on paid staff at a church — it’s our spiritual gift. There are numerous implications of this perspective.
First, I went to school for 7 years to learn how to use my spiritual gift of pastor/shepherd, but most of the things I spend my time doing each day fall into administrative tasks and organizing details, a gift I don’t have. Hmm… I would much rather be doing pastoral care for teens.
Second, and more importantly, this means that there are probably a lot more pastors in my church than I think, including teenagers! This puts a whole new spin on the term, “youth pastor.” Right now, I am not intentionally using the youth pastors in my ministry, nor training them to do pastoral care in their schools and future work environments.
I think this is will be part of the process of correcting the way I’m doing youth ministry all wrong, but I’m still thinking and praying through it. I greatly appreciate and welcome all your insights. The comments below are open.
Posted on March 2, 2010