Monday, July 5, 2010

Getting Old(er) in Youth Ministry

After getting soundly beat down in yet another game of football today, I had a realization ... at some point I jumped the shark from it being "unfair" for me to play against 13 year-olds to nobody really wanting me on their team.

I started out in youth ministry as an 18 year-old kid, and really I could beat just about any kid at any game (except for you Jon Meyer, you always could beat me but you're 12 feet tall, it's not fair). But time has set in, as well as my unhealthy diet, and it's just not the same. And I'm okay with it if I look at it the right way.

Soon, I'll surpass the equilibrium point, where more years will have been spent in youth ministry than years not. For instance, I'm 32 this year, and have now been driving as many years as I didn't, 16-16. In a few years my ministry experience will pass this point, too.

With the bad of becoming less athletic, fatter, and having less hair, there are goo things, too. I'm better at a lot of things I struggled with when I was younger. Here's some lists:

What I'm BETTER at as a 32 year-old:
Vision and Initiative
Spiritual Maturity/Knowledge
Parent relations
self-awareness, including the humility to ask for help to change
letting things roll off my back
doing ministry with other youth pastors
laughing at myself
... maybe more?

What I'm WORSE at:
Fun ... I am less fun for sure, no doubt
Games, I have to make myself have them sometimes
Lecturing ... all of a sudden I want to give pep talks to kids, weird
Exercising and Eating well, only nominally ministry related, but still ...
assuming the best of other team members and giving slack. Almost as if I operate with a sense of urgency
giving myself slack and allowing myself to not do/be the best at everything, always
... probably more?

Some of this is related to my previous post, but I look at it differently. Not all of this is good, nor bad. The question to me is facing reality and embracing the opportunities in both sides. I know a lot of people older than me get offended when I talk about feeling "old", but let's face it: youth ministry is stereotyped as a young man's game. Not a lot us make it this many years or this age without either trying to move up, quitting, or being asked to move "up".

Are there others out there examining this?


Ed said...

Great Post. We dads who used to be in our Father & Son group at church have a short saying that summarizes the situation:

From Stud to Dud

Zack, welcome! :-)

L. Ibido said...

This is youth minister and the picture is old person. Ad may be he has joined this ministry when he was young. But now he is going older.

JennLH said...

Zach, if I know you at all, I think you will never allow yourself to stop learning and that keeps you young.