Monday, November 23, 2009

Why I don’t want to be a senior pastor

On occasion, when talking with people about my plans to become a youth minister, I receive some confusion from people who aren’t entirely sure why I am not interesting in becoming an ordained minister, the senior lead pastor at a church. They don’t fully understand that being a youth pastor is my calling.

There are a lot of reasons why I am not interesting in being a head pastor. Although I know that many of these reasons are represented in some way for a youth pastor, it is the degree of responsibility and expectation that has led me to see my life and future in the way I see it now. Perhaps these sentiments will fade in time, but I genuinely do not think I will even decide to become a senior pastor at a church

1. I am not prepared to counsel anyone and everyone: As much as I loved it when youth would come ask me questions about life and God this summer, I don’t feel that I am capable of giving advice and comfort to all of the people who would walk through the doors of my church. It just seems so overwhelming to be a rock for such a wide variety of people, as well as a very emotionally draining task.

2. Giving sermons every week? No, thanks: This seems a bit hypocritical because I genuinely enjoy giving talks in front of people and sharing my thoughts and experiences. I gave five talks a week all summer, I have given reflections at a few Bible studies, I have spoken at a couple retreats, I gave two sermons at my church in high school. It is exciting for me at this point in my life to stand in front of my brothers and sisters and offer some words to reassure, challenge, and hopefully inspire them in some way. But the challenge of thinking of something relevant, practical, and real every week is terrifying. Creating entire sermon series and working to be theologically correct every single Sunday is not something I am interested in. I like the idea of giving a sermon every few months, which is what I have seen in a lot of churches.

3. I don’t want to be concerned with the numbers: I know that this isn’t necessarily a primary concern of all senior pastors, but I know that many church members and boards put pressure on the pastor to be the one bringing more and more people in and increasing or at least maintaining attendance. In my mind, the number of people coming into a church is so much less important than what each of those people is getting out of it. I am not interesting in sacrificing quality for quantity. Although churches also ask that high school pastors bring in larger numbers of youth, there is generally less pressure in that area.

4. Delegation isn’t exactly my favorite thing: My least favorite part of the summer was the one dinner each week that I was in charge of. At 4:30 every Wednesday, 10-15 youth would stroll into my kitchen with the intention of making tacos for 60-70 people. It was a little stressful, to say the least. The hardest part for me was delegating, telling each of them exactly what to do so that the whole meal wouldn’t be screwed up. There had to be enough cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and onions without wasting too much. The meat had to be properly seasoned and not brunt or undercooked. The sour cream couldn’t be taken out of the fridge too much before the meal started, but I better not forget it during crunch time. Suffice it to say, I hated Wednesday nights. As soon as everyone had gotten through the line and everything was replenished for seconds, I would head to the staff sleeping room and lay down for 15 minutes of peace. I only ate the meal a few times during the 9 weeks I prepared it. Basically what I am trying to say is that micromanaging and delegating suck. I hate that pressure of making sure that everyone has a job, that everyone is doing their job, and that everyone is happy. I cannot imagine doing that with a church. Give me a job, but don’t make me make other people do theirs.

5. I’m not good with the elderly: Ok, this one is kind of small and seems easy enough to fix. But I am just not good with old people. I struggle to think of what to say, I lose confidence, I can’t find my humor, and I feel completely awkward. I understand that to fix this just requires some practice, but I feel so confident about my ability to relate to kids and youth that I would much rather devote my time and energy to them. Why frustrate myself when I know that I have been given a gift for working with youth?

Essentially, what I’m saying is that I love the idea of being a youth pastor, and while some people seem to think I should be striving for something higher, I am perfectly content with my call. I don’t want all that responsibility. And no, for me being a youth pastor isn’t a stepping stone to my final career. It is genuinely what I want to do.

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