The Best and Worst of Youth Pastoring

Looking back on my youth ministry, I brought some of the best and worst ministry to the parents of my students (That was the best I had at the time). Like many youth pastors, I was a single Bible college student. Relationally, what I brought to the families was myself as an eldest sibling. With me, the parents had someone with whom they could trust their teens, to fortify the teachings they were giving their children, and perhaps a role model for the next steps of their teens’ lives.

Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none. They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst. (Ps. 69:20-21)

Now that I am married and a parent, I realize more what I lacked in ministering to the parents. I knew at the time that I lacked wisdom. When parents came to me for advice, I learned to recall what my parents had done for me, and that would sometimes get me by. What I really lacked at the time was empathy. Growing up, my parents made it look so easy. I had no idea how difficult it is to be a spouse and parent, to balance God, family, and work. I cried in prayer with my students, but I do not think I ever did with a parent. I just did not have it in me. As difficult as my life can be now, it has made me a better person and pastor. Be encouraged parents; you can do it!

Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (Heb. 10:35-39)
©2011 Paul Tillman

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