My husband and I had the privilege to work with youth in our first two years of ministry. I honestly thought that was what God would have us do all our lives. I think that youth work is probably one of the hardest ministries. Most young people are facing the crossroads of life and don’t know which way they want to go. The world looks so big and amazing. The Christian life, for many of them, seems like a sacrifice that some are just not willing to make. It is the job of the youth pastor and his wife to point these young people in the right direction and show them that the ministry is great.
I must confess that I was not the best youth pastor’s wife,…
…and much of what I write in this chapter are things I learned from my own mistakes. I came out of Bible college thinking that I knew it all and would cause the youth of America to surrender their lives to God the instant they met me. That was not the case. I have learned the hard way that the main role of a youth pastor and his wife is simply to be an extension of the senior pastor to the youth. The youth pastor and his wife should work hand in hand with the pastor and his wife to cast a vision for the youth.
A youth pastor’s wife should be a blessing to the pastor’s wife, not a burden.
When I was a youth pastor’s wife, I am sad to say that I was more of a burden than a blessing. I thought I knew more about young people because I was younger than the pastor and his wife. What I learned when I became a pastor’s wife is that sometimes the pastor and his wife may have more insight into the families of the young people than the youth pastor does. Respect the opinion of the pastor’s wife and seek her counsel. The youth pastor and his wife should constantly remind the youth of the leadership of the pastor and his wife and their vision for the church. Teach the teens to respect and honor the pastor and his wife. The standards of the youth pastor’s wife should be as high as those of the pastor’s wife. When working with youth, it is imperative that you maintain the high standards set by the pastor. Remember that whatever your standards are, the standards of the teens will always have lower; so aim high!
When you work with teens, you don’t have to act like one.
You must maintain your maturity and leadership role. Your dress should be fashionable but not faddish. Your dress should be a reflection of your leadership. Dress appropriately for everything. Be attractive all the time. Your husband will be surrounded by young, attractive teen girls all the time. Make sure you stay attractive as well.
Work to protect your husband and your marriage.
Teen girls will oftentimes be attracted to male leadership. Make sure that the teens know that you and your husband love each other and have a strong marriage. You should let them know this in a mature fashion. You shouldn’t be ”all over” your husband. It would be inappropriate for the teens to see that, but you should be together as much as possible in front of the teenagers. Hold hands when you can and maintain a united front. Go visiting with your husband as much as you can. Work with him to build the youth group. Try to be at everything, and let the teens see you there. Be a help to your husband, not just another person that he has to keep in line. Make sure you serve your husband at church events, not the teen girls. As a youth pastor’s wife, make sure that you do not hang out with the teen boys. Guard yourself. Remember, your number one role is that of a wife; your second role should be to point the young ladies toward Christ and His will for them.
When you have your own children, be flexible.
I have seen youth pastor’s wives who have quit every ministry once they have kids. You just can’t do that. Live by a schedule, but one that is flexible. Communicate with your husband so you know which events are important for you to attend. Decide which activities you need babysitters for and which ones you can bring the kids to. Be careful that your children are not raised by the teens. Remember that your children are your responsibility and that you and your husband should be their main influence.
Make sure that you protect your home.
If you have teens over to your home, don’t “let your hair down” so to speak. You should still maintain your level of maturity and your role in the ministry. Don’t allow teens to stay in your home when you are out of town. Have boundaries for your home. You want the teens to feel welcome, but they shouldn’t just be dropping by whenever they feel like it. Your home needs to be your haven, not theirs.
Watch your language!
When working with teens, it is so imperative that you maintain a level of maturity. Don’t use slang words or their vernacular. You should be a level above in every way—in your speech, your dress, etc. We are living in a generation in which our language has become very lax and inappropriate. Keep your standard in speech high.
When counseling or talking with a teenagers, never act shocked or surprised when they confess something or do something wrong. Many times they are seeking the shock factor. Teens love drama; don’t make the drama bigger. Keep the lines of communication open with the parents. The teen girls need to feel safe in coming to you with their problems, but the parents need to feel comfortable letting them do it. Work with the parents to better their teenager, not against them. You are going to have some parents who are doing right and some that are doing wrong, but you can’t go against the parent. God has placed the teenager in that home for a reason. All you can do is do your best to point them to Christ.
Don’t put all your focus on changing the bad kids and forget about the ones that are already doing right.
Sometimes we put so much focus into trying to put the bad kids on the rode to revival that we neglect the ones that are doing right. Spend some time with the “good kids.” Make sure they stay on the straight and narrow. Let them know that you are proud of them.
Have dreams for your teenagers.
Have a vision for them and let them know it. It’s okay to be spiritual with a teenager. Talk to them about what God has done in your life and tell them that the ministry is great. Your teens should learn from you that serving God is the best career they could have. Ask the girls how they are doing with their Bible reading. Help them to develop a walk with God. Talk to them about their future. Teach them to set goals for themselves.
Many young people today are being forced to make adult decisions. Make sure that you pray for your teens on a daily basis. Remember that whatever their burden is, whether it is big or small, it is always big to them. They are our future leaders, and you have been given the opportunity to influence them. Never take that lightly. It is a serious job and one that should be bathed in prayer.