Is Your Job A Ministry?

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© Photographer Ricardo Verde Costa |

Met for an early lunch with a friend and peer in ministry the other day.  In the past year he left his position as youth minister at one of the local churches to follow a calling in prison ministry.  He’s working with Juvenile Justice Ministries by investing in teenage boys and girls in juvenile detention.  This means mentoring them, teaching them life skills and bringing them hope.  The reason we were meeting is because he wanted to see if I wanted to be a mentor.
I didn’t have to think for more than a second, the commitment fit my schedule and my heart is in the right place.  It’s just a matter of filling out some paperwork and attending a training to get started in this ministry.  As I joyfully prepare for this ministry I can’t help but wonder:

As someone who works in ministry, do I really need another one?

On top of my job as a youth minister of a local church I lead a small group of 10th grade guys; however, that group is a part of the ministry I run.  I also mentor teens in the church, work with parents and train other ministers; however, are those tasks a part of my job or are they truly ministry?  When I lead discussions am I engaged as a small group leader or am I analyzing the questions?  While I do enjoy the work that I do, I sometimes wish that the work pressures would just vanish…at least for a moment.

When it comes to youth ministry the balance between serving and doing the job is difficult.  What starts as serving from the heart can easily becomes analyzing productivity, structure and process.  The joy comes and goes because of frustrations with coworkers, clients and even the commute.  And, this problem isn’t isolated to youth ministry; however, it’s a concept that’s difficult to understand considering the word ministry lies in our job title.  This whole question of whether or not youth ministers need to be in a ministry outside of their job, is really a question of, “How are you being fed?”  Many of us know the importance of:

  • Fellowship – Small groups, accountability partner or network of other youth ministers.
  • Intimate Time With God – Attending retreats, engaging in a Bible study (that isn’t prepping for a message) or journaling.

But what about a ministry? Should full time youth workers also serve in a different capacity?  And can that be in the church or should it be outside?