Being a youth minister is hard…it’s especially hard being a woman in youth ministry. I know, because for 21 plus years I have been one.
Often in email messages or phone conversations, young women in youth ministry express to me how much they are burnt out and struggling being in the ministry. They feel undervalued, not well-received, overlooked, lonely and treated unequally. These struggles are not true everywhere, but all too often they are true for many. It doesn’t matter if a woman is single, married and/or a parent.
I have experienced many of these same thoughts and struggles throughout the years and oftentimes have cried “unfair,” desired to change careers and whined and sputtered, but even though all of these things really happened, it got me nowhere and did not help to whine about it.
A good mentor of mine, when I came to her with my heart thoughts in these areas, suggested that in the undervalued, overlooked, unequal, lonely times, the first thing that I should do is get into the Word and let God use His Word to give peace and strength to my heart. She told me that I needed to be the one to teach the leaders and congregational members about who I am as a professional woman in youth ministry and what that means. She encouraged me to read books such as Leading from the Second Chair which emphasizes “servant-hearted” leadership.
I then made a list of all the ways women in youth ministry bring a unique perspective to the ministry that is different than what a male brings:
- They bring a care and compassion to ministry like no other.
- They tend to build deeper relationships and nurture deeper relationships in others.
- They bring the same gentle, loving, nurturing relationship to ministry that they do to their families and homes.
- They have a capacity to relate to other girls/women in the congregation in places where a male cannot.
- They have an ability to connect deeply on issues that affect girls’ lives, because they’ve walked that journey themselves.
- They have an intuitive sensitivity to the needs of others.
- Women seem to “know” when it is okay to sit with someone who is hurting and simply hold a hand…or are comfortable to cry with each other.
- Women are often in tune with their creativity. Women often use more kinesthetic creative means in sharing the Gospel with youth.
It’s true that being a woman in youth ministry is hard. God never said it was going to be easy (John 16:33: “In this life you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world”), but God knit us to be a part of His creation as servants and calls us to serve Him using the unique gifts that He gave to us.