the escalator...

I remember going to the mall when I was little. The first stop would always be KB Toys. I would run rampant in the store, saying I want this, taking that off the shelf, playing with those toys. I would be the kid screaming up and down the aisle always saying I want this, this, those, 3 of those, that one, and this one please! (always have to throw a please in the end to make sure the parental unit knows I am nice enough to ask politely). However, when going to the mall, I had so much that stimulated me as a child, I always looked forward to one thing....the escalator. I thought this was the coolest invention ever made. AUTOMATIC STAIRS! I would ride them up or down and I would ALWAYS jump off before I got sucked down into the black abyss below the stairs, or so my brothers told me.

The escalator is such a coll invention and I still enjoy riding them today. I don't ride them, however, with half as much imagination as I did when I was a kid. To be honest, I still don't know what is under those stairs. Yet, when I was a kid, I always thought going up the escalator was the best way to reach the top. It was easy, required little effort, and once I got there, I was on the top floor and NEVER going down.

Youth ministers, it is time to be called out. We have the SAME thought process a few times in our careers. Much like any other career, we always want to move up, be bigger, be better, do more, bigger budgets, more students, more lives over to Christ, bigger events, bigger bands, bigger retreats. We ALWAYS want to go UP and we will always take the easy route to do it. We are on the youth ministry escalator.

I have only been in youth ministry for 5 years. I am what you would call a "newb"; for those that understand gamer lingo. I don't know everything in youth ministry, but I used to always find the easiest way to do my job that would require the least amount of effort; thus, I would be do little work with maximizing my product. See, it doesn't quite work that way. We get what we put into it. My journey in youth ministry, following Christ first (of course not all the time because I am not perfect), is NEVER the escalator, it is the broken down escalator. I have to take the stairs.

When I am "climbing" in my career, it is going to take effort. Now, we all know, as youth ministers we "borrow" from other youth groups, and we also know that if we borrow it, it has been borrowed twice already. Youth ministry was laid out for us by people that dedicated HARD WORK AND EFFORT but also a STRONG FAITH IN CHRIST.

There is never an easy way in youth ministry. The escalator does break down from time to time. The best thing is, they can only become stairs. You will reach your goals, it will take HUGE FAITH and EFFORT to get there.

I also want to touch on one more thing. Sometimes, moving to the bigger and better looking churches is not always the best. Money does not speak in my world. We need to see where we feel God is leading us. KB Toys was ALWAYS on the second floor. MY prizes was at the top. Christ desire for us is to listen to Him and follow Him. Our gifts that He has given us are needed where HE NEEDS US, not always where we want to go.

My pastor said these words to me that ring true right now, "I don't care if I make a lateral move, a move that pays more or pays less. My wife and I want to go where we feel God needs my strength and we put that in His hands. God ALWAYS finds a way to provide." The cool part is, when we put it in God's hands, we can see that He will provide.

I want to encourage those that are looking for jobs, keep looking but pray first. Remember, each church comes with pressure and problems, even though it looks great in the packaging, but also follow what you feel Christ is telling you to go. Only you can lie to yourself.

What struggles do you go through when looking for jobs? What are some things that you look for when you are applying for a youth minister position? When you get discouraged so much at your current position, do we just check the YS Job Bank and see what is available? Write your comments or suggestions below! You never know who could need your advice or who can give you advice!


CJ said...

Wonderful post, Mark. In my 28 years of youth minsitry I found this to be true of myself and other staff members: If you can't find joy in serving God at Point A, you are not likely to find it at Point B either. The problem was seldom the church. It was usually me not putting Jesus first. A great reminder, my friend!

Christopher Wesley said...

Mark, great post, I've only been in ministry for 7 years and this has been my only ministry job. I agree with CJ, the discontent I have felt in ministry rarely deals with the place I'm employed but always my relationship with Christ.
If we aren't spending time with God (outside of ministry) we will surely burn out.

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