When I wanted to be a youth minister my senior year of high school, I simply thought of how awesome it would be to share my faith with teens and (hopefully) bring them closer to God, just like my youth minister in high school did. I loved attending the Steubenville Youth Conferences and I had a great time every week of youth group.
When I had a seminar class on youth ministry in college and had a one semester internship, I was not made aware of major stresses that can come with the job. I did get to experience some of the behind-the-scenes work during my internship, but the seminar focused on theories and some best practices. I learned a few practical things, but it would have been nice to learn more.
When I started as full-time youth minister, I tried to continue what the last youth minister had going on. It wasn't until the big summer events and conferences when I started to get majorly stressed out. Sometimes people in charge forget that us newbies don't know exactly what we're doing in our first year(s)! I survived the summer, though, and actually had a lot of fun with the youth at the conferences and lock-ins.
Then came my second year, which didn't start off so well. There was conflict and tension and I had no idea why (turns out it was from a lack of communication and lack of asking the right people questions). Who would have thought that there could be conflict, tension, and drama while working for a church!? Especially when I'm one of the least dramatic people out there. It came, it went, it came back. The circle of life when you work with real people, I suppose.
My second year has also been a lot more demanding. People expect more. I learned how to turn down some things in life and have fewer meetings. Having free nights is one of the most amazing things in the world. I think every year, playing the balance game will change. Work, free/personal time, relationships, spiritual life, eating healthy, working out, errands, the list goes on! I have been very overwhelmed in the past 4-5 months and sometimes I don't even know what my purpose/goals are of being a youth minister. I feel like I don't know what I'm doing because it's not quite what I expected.
But I keep on. It has to be difficult before it can be easy. I have to learn from mistakes before I can teach others what I know. I have to grow in my ministry and be the youth minister I want to be, not the youth minister others want me to be. Yes, I have a job to do, but I also have my own strengths and weaknesses. Starting from (almost) scratch and building up your own youth ministry is a very challenging task, but I know it can be done. I also know I need to stop having a negative attitude about work! It needs to be positive, so that positivity will flow into all I do with my ministry. Lord help us all!