A Downside to Youth Ministry

I am realizing that I am no longer that 23 year old who started his first official gig as a youth pastor.
We had a lock-in this past weekend, and my body is STILL recovering from it. I remember when I could have a lock-in, study for an exam in seminary, lead youth worship on Sunday, then ace the said exam in seminary on Monday.
Those days are long gone. But that’s not the point of this post.

I need to really start taking care of myself, physically. As a colleague of mine joked, “by large, the Methodists clergy are by and large.”
Here’s the cool thing about youth ministry: I get to eat with the youth. And what youth like to eat (for the most part) are some amazing food: Taco Bell, Del Taco, In n Out, McDonalds, Wendy’s… Zippy’s if I were still in Hawaii.
But here’s the downside… my metabolism has slowed down and the food seem to just stay in my body.
My new senior pastor has been emailing me and commenting on my facebook walls with threats (yes, I do consider them threats) of taking me running with him. He’s a marathon runner. Running sucks, unless there’s a purpose: like running for my life, running away from the police (er… scratch that), running with a ball and scoring points for your team, etc. But just running? No thank you.

A lot of ministry happens over food. Not much difference from the times of Jesus.
The office of a youth pastor is usually not the best of places for real conversations to occur between said pastor and youth.
Food eases the atmosphere.
And the regular teenagers don’t want to eat fruits and salads when I offer to take them out to eat.
So I need to really get my butt into shape so that I can eat whatever I want with the kids.
Besides, with my wife detesting In n Out, the kids are my only consistent excuse to divulge myself into the goodness that is In n Out.

So for the sake that I can eat like a teenager again, I’ll need to really start exercising more. And, hopefully that won’t involve running without a ball.

… or I can just get fat.

7 thoughts on “A Downside to Youth Ministry

  1. Joseph – Thanks for sharing your honest response to eating with the youth. I am on a journey to loose some weight. It requires commitment and time, which I find difficult occasionally. Good luck, my friend.

  2. April 15th is the annual office 5K…last one to the office gives up coffee houses for a week…I found a cool apartment along the running trails too… Grace and Peaceful running, John

  3. If the students are helping you gain weight, why cant they help you lose it too? Lots of great ministry happens on a basketball court or a weight room floor as well. Best of Luck in your ministry – Bill

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