My question is this: When was the last time you prayed specifically for the student pastor / youth leader at your church?
The reason I ask is because I think we sometimes forget about student pastors. Maybe it’s because they often aren’t as visible as the senior pastor, the worship leader or even, in some cases, the minister of education. But trust me, they need our prayers.
I am completely convinced that the role of youth leader is more difficult in our current culture than ever before. They are dealing with questions from their students that none of their predecessors ever had to think about. Heavy stuff. Dark stuff. Deep stuff.
When I was a youth, it almost felt like our student pastor’s biggest pressure-cooker was deciding if he should order from Domino’s or Pizza Hut. (Either way, he knew someone would likely be unhappy). These days, though, there’s more to think about than toppings.
So, I encourage you to pray for your youth leader(s) as they navigate through these treacherous waters. Pray that they will have wise words and helpful hearts. Pray that they will find the right things to say and that they will seek direction from all the right places.
Beyond that, student pastors also need our prayers in regard to less emotional areas. Sometimes even the simplest of things can become tricky.
For instance, I recently attended a student conference with the youth from our church. (I was a chaperone and van driver). On the surface, the trip seemed to be cut-and-dried: A three-hour ride to Gatlinburg, followed by a three-day conference, and then a three-hour ride home. Bada boom, bada bing. Nothing to it.
A few days before we were scheduled to leave, however, we began hearing that a winter storm could impact our trip.
Our initial reaction was to laugh and say: “Let’s be real. It is not going to snow.” Here in Tennessee, when it comes to forecasted winter storms, it usually turns out that their bark is far worse than their (frost) bite.
But this time was different. This time, the newscasts didn’t suddenly inform everyone that the storm had changed directions and that the snow was not coming. Instead, the forecast actually became more concerning each day. And by the time we arrived in Gatlinburg, the snow storm seemed certain to hit Tennessee.
So, our youth pastor was now in a pickle. He had a huge decision to make and — similar to the Pizza Hut v. Domino’s dilemma — he knew that no matter what he did, someone would be unhappy.
If we came home early, and it didn’t snow, parents might be upset. If we stayed for the duration of the conference and got snowed in, parents might be upset. What’s a student pastor to do?
In our case, he prayed about it. He sought counsel from the church leaders. He studied the weather maps.
Ultimately, he made the call that we would end the trip one day earlier than planned and would return home on Sunday night instead of Monday afternoon.
For me, the van driver, it felt like the right call. Better to be safe than sorry, right? But that was easy for me to say. I wouldn’t be the one dealing with angry parents.
As it turned out, our student pastor ended up being a hero. We made the trip from Gatlinburg to Goodlettsville on Sunday night — in clear conditions. We were literally five minutes from the church when we first started to see snow flurries. Two hours later, the roads were covered with snow and traveling was hazardous.
Ultimately, our story had a happy ending. But I could see during the trip that the youth pastor — a friend of mine — was feeling the weight of his impending decision. He didn’t let it show around the students, but I know he was concerned. It was a hard decision, and it was on his shoulders.
I share this story simply to reiterate the fact that our youth pastors need our prayers. Daily.
Their’s is not an easy job. They have to make hard calls. They have to decide who needs a hug and who needs tough love. They have to answer delicate questions. They have to put on a brave face even when they are worried.
So, pray for them. Constantly.
Because somewhere, at this very moment, there’s a youth pouting about the pizza. B&R