By Theresa Mazza
My honeymoon phase in youth ministry was exactly what I imagined it would be. A giddy newlywed, I was absolutely head-over-heels in love with my new life as a youth pastor, and enjoyed an early blissful marriage to my youth group. I felt fulfillment and purpose. And I had no doubt that I was perfectly in the center of God’s will for my life.
I was 22 years old—the first female youth pastor ever hired at the church I was serving. I was doing everything a youth pastor should: my lessons were biblical and interactive, my events were fun, the parents were happy, and our discipleship program was impressively attended. Every mark my supervisor wanted me to hit, I hit. I did this by developing a core group of students. I’d witnessed this type of leadership investment before and knew it would work here. These teenagers were absolutely on fire for God and very active in every part of the ministry.
The investment was paying off. My core group served their guts out. They worshipped every Sunday night as if it were their last day on earth. They were faithful followers and hard-core student leaders. And they made me look good… really good. My ego was, well, healthy. And I knew—just knew—that I’d be the youth pastor at this church for a very long time.
But then God decided it was past-time for the honeymoon to end. A cloud of dissatisfaction settled over me, and it dawned on me that I was not the perfect youth pastor serving a youth group full of perfect teenagers. There was a kind of dark underbelly to all of my “success”:
• I called some kids by name and others by my default greeting: “Hey man.”
• While our core group was worshipping like crazy, the rest of the group sat patiently on the sideline for 30 minutes as our leaders talked over and around them.
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