The Youth Minister’s Personal Issues

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The following is a brief summary of some of the more vital personal issues impacting the youth minister. This content might cause a leader to choose to give new attention to a particular issue.

1.     Absence of Intimacy with Close Friends

  • Men especially can have lots of relationships through vocation but fail to have close friendships with one or two men.
  • When you are “off stage,” whom can you be entirely open and unguarded with?
  • Whom can you call at 3:00 a.m., knowing that person will come immediately without any explanation?
  • You have to invest time in relationships for them to become (or remain) warm and intimate. Planning to invest that time “when things slow down a little” always will be a failed strategy. You make a conscious decision to invest in relationships, you schedule the time, and then you follow through.

Action Plan:

2.     Broken Relationships

  • Broken relationships in your personal or professional life sap your joy, peace, motivation, and energy.
  • It does not matter who was at fault with a broken relationship. You take the initiative to repair it.
  • In church life you move close to problem people and not away from them. Go out of your way to have conversations (even though your tendency will be to run the other way).
  • “Keep your messes cleaned up.” You always should be able to look backwards, even across multiple churches, and see that you did all you could do to resolve every broken relationship.

Action Plan:

3.     Secret Sin

  • Unresolved secret sin will harm how you see yourself and your worth.
  • Unresolved secret sin will lead to broken relationships with those you serve and those you love.
  • Unresolved secret sin will lead to feeling distance from God. You will be His child, but the warmth and closeness will be weak.
  • Unresolved secret sin will lead to others following you in that sin. What the leader does in secret, his own children and his youth will tend to do.
  • Every Christian leader (actually, every believer) must be accountable to someone. Thoughts and behavior that completely are secret always will be destructive at some point. Mutual, grace-filled, and encouraging accountability with a trusted friend is absolutely essential.

Action Plan:

4.     Working Too Many Hours

  • An unhealthy number of work hours can reveal a messiah complex. I.e., “These teenagers would be lost without me.” Actually, we have one Messiah, and He is entirely adequate.
  • Every youth minister needs uninterrupted time with the family or, if single, with one’s closest friends.
  • Two or three evenings a week and a Saturday, or the full equivalent of a Saturday, should be seen as a minimum amount of time “off the clock.”
  • Announce to those you lead: “For me to give full attention to those I love and for me to recharge my own emotional and spiritual batteries, I have to take breaks from technology. That means I will turn everything off at certain times. I always will get back to you, but sometimes my returned calls and texts will be delayed. Your giving me that freedom will give you a better leader.”
  • Some needs you just walk away from in order to stay healthy and to continue to lead decade after decade.

Action Plan:

5.     Hidden Emotional Issues

  • Consider the analogy of the iceberg. Your public self is “above the water,” and hidden emotional issues are “beneath the water.”
  • You don’t know yourself the way you think you do. (No one does.)
  • You don’t come across to others the way you think you do. (No one does.)
  • The hidden parts of your being do create problems for you. They impact your relationships, job effectiveness, and even spiritual life.
  • Your closest friend can help you see things you have been missing. This is one of the reasons you invest in deep, long-term friendships.
  • Biblical counseling can help you discover how experiences from the past are impacting your life today and how to move beyond those experiences.
  • Reading biblically sound books can give you insight into issues such as anger, conflict, guilt, fear of intimacy, need to control, paranoia, low sense of worth, and adult children and their parents.
  • Wise leaders, for a lifetime, remain open and curious about their makeup, and they always look for new insights that will lead them to be healthier and more spiritually alive.

Action Plan:

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