I received an email the other day from a church who was asking some questions about a friend who they were considering to be their pastor.

The email included something that caught my eye. Here is part of the email that I found interesting:

We have a strong and very gifted youth pastor who we all love dearly. We know, some day, he will move on to probably, a pastor position. In your opinion, is (my friend’s name) gifted in the area of mentoring?

This was probably one of the worst things you can write in an email to me. I understand that their question has nothing to do with youth ministry, but the wording of the sentence tells me a lot about their thoughts about youth ministry and youth pastors.

It reads like they think that one day their youth pastor will “grow up” and “move on” to a “real pastor position.” This, in my opinion, reflects the attitude of many when it comes to youth ministry. For many, youth ministry is a stepping stone to “real ministry” or a “real job.” It’s something you do as you wait to mature into a “pastor.”

But youth pastors ARE pastors. We are called by God. We do have responsibilities that require pastoral leadership. We are equal in calling and only subordinate in role. God has called us to pastoral ministry.

I strongly believe that I will be working in youth ministry my whole life. Maybe God will change my understanding of what He has called me to, but please don’t make it sound like I’m just waiting around for a real calling.

(Photo by: Aslan on flickr)