18 months in . . . . and I haven't quit yet.

Every now and then I like to give a little air time to some up and coming youth workers and writers.  (If that is you, let me know when you would like some space as well)  Austin is an incredibly godly young man who is sold out to Jesus and his students.  I have had the pleasure of watching him develop into quite the youth worker.  Here is another guest post by Austin Penn.  Enjoy!

There is an infamous statistic of youth workers quitting/leaving/transitioning out of their job after 18 months. It’s kind of a fun game to look back and see how many youth workers you have met that are no longer in the game. It’s can also be pretty sad. How many great youth workers have we lost to the grind of ministry?

The good news is, some of the youth workers we lose are actually for the better. Better for them, their families, and the churches they served at. In my Youth Ministry 1 class our professor actually hoped to have kids give up the idea of youth ministry as a career. He would say “If you can picture yourself doing anything other than youth ministry; go do that! You will be much happier.” You see he realized that like any other job or calling, not everyone is meant to do it.

One of my dear friends was one of the students that took that advice. He came to college thinking he was going to be a youth pastor, but walked away with a degree in education. That was his real calling. He is an incredible teacher that changes kid’s lives in a totally different way. The way he was called to. That class we took changed us both in two totally different ways, but it was exactly what we each needed. My friend may have found a different and better calling for his life, but I didn’t. I came to the humbling conclusion that there wasn’t “anything else” I could do with my life. This was my call.

I remember the overwhelming and spirit-filled moment when I was called to ministry. It was the clearest I had ever heard from God. My hand raised in the air without my body and brain knowing. A counselor came and talked to me, and I couldn’t help but utter out the words “I think God is calling me to be a youth pastor.” I was 14. God had spoken to me, and I had to follow. I followed blindly.

I now sit here 9 years later and I am humbled. Humbled that I was called for a lifetime of service to my King. Humbled by the life change that I get to witness and be a part of. Humbled by the incredible students that I serve.

You see that’s what keeps you in the game. It’s not the church politics, working with a staff, and always being “on call” that keeps youth pastors around. It’s not the crazy hours, the stress on marriages and families, or working on the Sabbath. It’s the call and the heart for the kids, that’s what keeps you in the game.

Austin Penn is the Director of Student Ministries at Countryside Covenant Church in McPherson, Kansas. Austin is a graduate of Central Christian College with a Bachelor’s Degree in student ministry. While at Central, Austin played for the baseball team, was the Student Body Chaplain and met his beautiful wife Stevie. He is passionate about young people, and he longs to see them come to know and love Jesus!