Reflecting on the parable of the workers in the vineyard, I am drawn to which worker I more often resemble as a youth minister. Do I serve without reservation and gladly accept what God gives me? Or do I grumble most of the time and keep asking for more?
When we are the grumbling workers in the vineyard, youth ministers probably aren’t inspiring teens to fill their shoes — to continue the work in the vineyard.
Go to a youth ministry conference, deanery meeting, or any gathering of youth ministers and the common chatter and joke is the rough night/weekend hours, low pay, and lack of volunteers. And the ever-popular “nobody gets what I’m doing.”
Ultimately, though, our role is to be a fearless servant as we lead teens closer to our Lord. Considering Christ’s parable of the workers in the vineyard (see Matthew 20:1-16), take a moment to pray through these questions:
- As a youth minister, do I more often sound like the grumbling worker, than a grateful servant leader? How can I present my role as youth minister in a more positive light?
- This work in ministry is not about what we receive — it is about doing God’s work with great care and humility. How careful am I with the responsibilities God has given me? Where do I lack humility in my role?
- What are some glory stories I can recall and share with others to inspire them to want to join in this missionary work as a youth minister?
I encourage you to be positive about your role in front of your teens — why do love what you do? We should promote our positions in youth ministry with care, inspiring teens to want to fill our shoes one day.
- Highlight some of the benefits of the job, such as your flexible schedule and ability to be creative.
- Talk about how important youth ministry is to the life of the parish and why you do it.
- Be more relational. Being relational breathes energy into your ministry and it gives the perception to others that you enjoy your work.
- Pray for and with the teens. And let them know you’re praying.
Every chance I get with college teens who display the humility, gifts, and skills to be a youth minister, I make sure to say one positive aspect of being a youth minister. I love what I do. And God has called me to it.
But I wouldn’t be a grateful worker in the vineyard if not for prayerful discernment and listening to God through Scripture, prayer and my brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to do the same for our teens and young adults. We need to help them discern the possibility of being a youth minister.
I think of the film “Fishers of Men,” which helps inspire men to be interested in the priesthood. Perhaps a film like “To Save a Life” could be used similarly as an opener for a discussion about being a youth minister.
Question: What other ideas do you have to beef up the youth ministry field and inspire teens to want to do what you do?