Okay, it’s definitely official. I’ve been a youth pastor for ten years now! Technically, I’m not sure of the exact date I began back in 2001 at my first church in Connecticut – I just know my first day on the job was some time in April, 2001. I can’t believe it’s been ten years! In the youth ministry world, that kinda makes me a veteran.
It’s strange to think back over the years. I’m definitely not the same youth pastor I was a decade ago! That guy was pretty naive, impatient, and had a lot of unrealistic and idealistic expectations when it came to ministry, church, leaders and students. It’s funny to me because at the time I thought I was more balanced than many of my fellow newbies; I was 25 (compared to a lot of my peers first starting at around 21 years old), and had grown up a Pastor’s Kid, so I thought I had an edge – but I look back now and just shake my head at some of my rookie mistakes!
My big regret at the moment is more of a personal growth thing. I’ve always wanted to get a master’s degree in counseling and I haven’t done it … yet. Because I took time off after high school to work, go to Bible school in England, and then finally get to college at 21, when I graduated from Gordon College in 2000 I thought I needed to jump directly into full time ministry. At the time I was torn between going on to seminary or picking at a degree while working at a church. Being impatient, the idea of graduating from seminary at 27 or 28 and going into full time ministry at that point seemed like I was putting it off too long, so my big line at the time was, ‘I’ll just pick at a degree one class at a time. It doesn’t matter if it takes me ten years, I’ll still get it eventually.’
Ten years later, I still haven’t started. First I postponed it because I had a new ministry position. Then it was because of babies. I’ve filled out seminary applications four times – and every time Heather told me she was pregnant! I’m afraid to even look at an application now!!! So I would postpone for the chaos of a new baby … and ten years later I’m realizing that our schedule was definitely lighter when the kids were younger!
All that to say, it’s time to bite the bullet. We’re still thinking it through and figuring it out, but there is a great seminary near here that has a workable class schedule for full time pastors. It would be a rough couple years – but from what I’ve seen of parents of teens, once Micah hits middle school in a couple years, what little free time Heather and I have now will be gone until Zachary graduates from high school in 2027, right before my 52nd birthday!
This post is getting longer than I intended! It’s been a whirlwind ten years and somehow I think the next ten will fly by even faster. I’m still learning, growing, and loving what I do. The first ten years have seen me go from the young rookie to a parent of four small kiddos. The next ten are going to see me transition into being not just a parent to teens, but also a parent OF teens, which I can only think will will be a good thing for me as a youth pastor – I’ll finally be able to truly understand what the parents of these kids I have been working with for so many years are going through!
Which is kind of terrifying!