How Youth Workers Can Earn Respect (Part Two)

By Andy Lawrenson December 14, 2016

In this two part blog series, two of our favorite writers weigh in on 10 ways that youth workers can earn respect. Be sure to look back to Part 1 for five more suggestions from Mike McGarry.

When I first started out in youth ministry, I was replacing the former youth pastor. For a long time people kept asking, “Where’s Bobby?” Church members would call the church and ask for Bobby; they would drop by the office looking for Bobby. Pretty soon I found myself, the “new guy,” under suspicion and in a position where I quickly needed to earn the respect of the church members. Here are five tips of what I found helpful in the process:

  1. Be accessible.
    Much of youth ministry happens outside of the office, but in order to maintain a professional presence we need to be accessible during regular, weekly office hours. Monday through Friday from nine to five may be unrealistic and ineffective, so find a consistent schedule that works for you. Post your office hours on your door. Communicate them on your voicemail, and list them on your email or website footer. Make sure church staff, students, and parents know how and when to contact you.
  1. Be on time.
    Punctuality communicates that we’re ready and prepared, and it shows value to those we work with and for. We all know how frustrating it is to wait around for a parent to pick up their teen after an event, but the reverse is also true. Parents can become frustrated when events and trips don’t end on time. Start on time and end on time to earn the respect of parents and church leaders.
  1. Stick to a calendar.
    Make sure to utilize some sort of calendar or planner to keep track of tasks, events, and appointments. You will lose respect when you have to reschedule appointments because you neglected to look at your calendar first. If you have multiple calendars and can sync them or have them in one easy location, you will be well ahead of the game.
  1. Study before you teach.
    Make sure to schedule time into your calendar for planning and prepping for your weekly message. It’s easy to spot when a youth pastor just wings it or does a 4:45 search online for a message to share that night. Communicating God’s Word requires our best, not our worst. Open up that calendar and plan out your teaching for the year; know where you are heading and where you’re leading your students.
  1. In everything follow through.
    Complete your tasks on time. Most youth workers end up doing more than just youth ministry; in fact, sometimes our job description reads, “And other duties as assigned.” Whatever your role looks like your staff team relies on your follow through, and there should be no question if you’ll do the tasks assigned to you. Keep track of your assignments, and don’t neglect people. A task-oriented person is more likely to lose track of caring for people; whereas, a people-oriented person might lose sight of completing tasks. When you follow through on tasks while also treating people with great care, you’ll earn the respect of others in no time.

Life in the ministry is like living life in a fish bowl or under a microscope, and we oftentimes must demonstrate that we are deserving of others’ respect. Set yourself up for both professional and ministry success by keeping regular office hours, being punctual, maintaining an organized calendar, intentionally preparing messages, and following through on your commitments. You can ensure that you’re never to blame for someone viewing you as anything less than professional.

About the Author

Andy Lawrenson

Andy Lawrenson has been in student ministry for 26 years both as a volunteer and paid staff member.  Andy and his wife, Misha, have been married for 28 years and have three children: a son in middle school and twin eight-year-olds, a boy and girl. Andy loves getting together with other youth pastors to talk about…  Read More