YM Exposed: Things I Never Thought I’d Do

Whenever you began your youth ministry career you had hopes and aspirations.  You may have been excited to lead teens to Christ, catechize them on the truths of the faith, and build relationships with them.  You probably expected some joys and challenges to take place like teens encountering Christ, occasional difficulties with co-workers or parents, and dealing with teens with bad attitudes.  Many things can be expected, but here’s a list of things I never imagine I’d be doing.

I Never Thought I Would:

  • Be sucked into endless hours of administrative work
  • Have 6 teens lose a parent in my first full summer
  • Endure a volunteer spreading a vicious rumor about me
  • Witness teens who knew Christ become solid atheists, then encounter God again
  • Figure out how to create, fight for, and maintain a budget for my ministry
  • Have teens who are still losing baby teeth
  • Have to justify leaving the office to do contact ministry with teens
  • Experience a teen yelling at me, in front of his mom and all the other Confirmation candidates and their parents, because he didn’t want to be there…and have his mom be okay with his behavior
  • Years later having that same teen chase me down the bleachers at a football game to exuberantly tell me that he doesn’t go to youth group but he’s at Mass every week because that’s what is most important
  • Have a priest be the root cause of behavioral issues on a pilgrimage
  • Realize that just because I’m in ministry doesn’t give anyone the right to yell at or treat me poorly
  • Have a teen get locked in a metal box during a retreat – we had to destroy the box
  • Have 2 of my married volunteers decide who would leave the ministry since they were getting divorced
  • Receive great advice from a priest that, “They will always demand more of you; even when you’re in the grave they’ll be knocking asking you to do this or that. Learn to say no.”
  • Hang up on an irate parent who wouldn’t stop yelling on the phone
  • Be verbally accosted by a parent and feel I had to protect my teens from them
  • Have a parent believe that their teen attempted suicide due to being grounded from their phone
  • Accidentally have a volunteer break his back during a game…then break it again a year later after he’d finish surgery (eek!  Retreats and dodgeball can get dicey – but his team did win.)
  • Contact CPS multiple times due to abuse in the home and have them take no action
  • Leave a parish because I deserved to be treated better and respected since I am a child of God
  • Be criticized for ‘only’ working 60 hours a week
  • Have a priest think that “if it’s fun it doesn’t count as work”
  • Question my own faith and belief in God
  • Perform 9 months of ministry with chronic mono and no one in my ministry knew
  • Be the only person that cared about my spiritual, physical, and emotional health and balance; and have to diligently fight to nurture and care for it
  • Do significant (and important) ministry towards my coworkers
  • Have life and death scares with mission trips, lock-ins, and car accidents
  • Watch and pray for my former teens entering seminary and religious life
  • Have the cops called on my youth group because neighbors thought we were breaking in a vandalizing the Church during a lock-in (and have most of my teens try to run from the cops…it’s a great story)
  • Attend weddings of former teens and minister to their children
  • Speak and give trainings to teens, young adults, core team, and youth ministers when I can vividly remember being in their shoes
  • As a white female living in America, experience prejudice from a supervisor because of my skin color, primary language, and cultural background
  • Break the news to parents that their young daughter is sexually active and be asked to be present and part of that family conversation
  • Have an irate pastor cuss at me in front of parishioners after believing another person’s lie
  • Support multiple former teens as NET and FOCUS missionaries
  • Attend numerous funerals of teens’ parents and journey with them in mourning
  • Have a plethora teens in the community commit suicide
  • Look for a teen who was missing and minister to their family as they anxiously waited for news
  • Drive hours to visit teens in state mental hospitals
  • Be amazed at the spiritual maturity and growth a 7th grader can experience
  • Have parents who think that their kid cutting is “just a phase” and refuse to take action
  • Be asked by parents to be present when they deliver devastating news to their teen
  • Witness the Holy Spirit move through middle school youth in ways I had never seen even after a decade in ministry
  • Rejoice as the youth, unprompted and untrained, began praying over each other while being moved by the Spirit
  • Have a volunteer (and friend) be called to the seminary and, years later, ordained as a priest and assigned to my parish

God has amazing things in store for each of us.  Whether you’re a volunteer, paid, or even volun-told youth minister.  No matter what you are prepared for God is always ready to move through you and with you in ways that you couldn’t imagine.  Strive to have a strong prayer life, stay close to Jesus, and hang on for the ride of a lifetime!!!

4 thoughts on “YM Exposed: Things I Never Thought I’d Do

  1. Madison Milliken

    As a Gwen Bartlett alumni it is funny to read through these and guess who/what you are talking about in each example 🙂

  2. What a journey! Thank you for sticking with youth ministry through all the crap. So many people are better off because of that decision.

  3. Awesome post!

  4. Renee White

    Thank you so much for being Jesus to me, my family and the teens!! You have taught us so much! You are an AWESOME youth minister!

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