I received this question from a youth worker yesterday:
I am speaking at a youth ministry event on Longevity in Ministry. I would love to hear back from you on what your top 10 secrets of longevity in ministry are?
Here’s what I wrote in response:
In no particular order…
1. Embrace humility. ask people to hold you accountable to this.
2. Have intentional conversations with youth workers who have stayed in one church for 10 years or more. seek their input.
3. Make a list of the reasons why longevity is valuable. pull it out and read it from time to time.
4. Get over yourself. you are not God’s secret weapon or only option.
5. Ruthlessly develop intimacy with Jesus. only when you are deeply connected with Jesus will you be able to set aside your ego and weather the temptations to move on.
6. Remind yourself regularly that your calling does not come from people, but from God.
7. Decide how you will measure your success. Bad measures of success = a big program, lots of ego strokes, buzz, impressive numbers. good measures of success = the faith of former teenagers when they’re in their 20s or 30s (and only longevity allows you to really see that).
8. Consider the cost to your Church, the teenagers you serve, your family, and your own soul of constantly looking over the fence for something “better”.
9. Eschew power. power corrupts your calling, and falsely inflates your sense of importance.
10. Value faithfulness over influence.
Oh, and #11: Cultivate a life outside of ministry
How about an even dozen? #12: Be ruthless about establishing and honoring a sustainable rhythm of silence and solitude.
What do you think? what did I miss?
and, which of these is most difficult for you?
Mark Oestreicher is a 30-year veteran of youth ministry, and the former President of Youth Specialties. Marko has written or contributed to more than 50 books, including the much-talked-about Youth Ministry 3.0. Marko is a speaker, author, consultant, and leads the Youth Ministry Coaching Program. For information on booking him at your next event call 615-283-0039.