Getting Old in Youth Ministry

I was once mistaken for the boyfriend of one of my students. It was my first Sunday in my first full time ministry and this Jr. High kid thought I was his older sister’s new boyfriend. It was at a sunrise service on Easter, and I don’t think the kid was into coffee yet, so I’m chalking it up to the morning fog! Still… it was awkward.

Another time, my wife and I were scolded for skipping out on a workshop session at a conference. Some power hungry intern (whom I am certain was mostly just concerned about the mortal peril to our souls as we wandered off alone) berated us for as long as his breath would hold out before we could get a word in to explain. Before we were heard, though, he wanted to know where our sponsors were. We just laughed (almost rudely enough) as we explained that I was the youth minister who’d just been making sure my students were finding their workshop locations. We were now on the way to the adult session with the rest of the big people. Again… awkward.

Yet another day, at another conference, I was mistaken for one of my students, again. We were awake and talking (not that loudly) in the dorms way after hours, when an intern (probably not the same one I’d imagine!) at the conference stuck his head in the door to tell us to shut up and go to bed. He looked around the room, sized us all up, and pointed a finger right at one of my favorite, full-bearded seniors and told him he needed to get his boys under control. This one wasn’t awkward for me at all, but it sure was for that student. I call it sort of a mentoring/training moment since he’s a youth minister now, too! That night, I died a silently laughing death from my perch on someone else’s top bunk before I headed back to my own room (which was completely quiet because… I had it all under control in there).

As I think back on these mis-identifications, I realize… it doesn’t happen much anymore. I’m more likely to be mistaken for being one of my student’s dad. And it might not even be a mistake, since my oldest child is firmly entrenched with the other 7th graders in our youth ministry and turned 13 yesterday!

So… how do you know you’re getting old?

6 Replies to “Getting Old in Youth Ministry”

    1. I did get carded for spray paint several months back. I had a couple of my students with me and I guess we looked a little suspicious… The quizzical “Huh.” from the checker when she saw the birth year was worth the cost of the paint.

  1. Our son always looked young too, so when he grew a beard. I always looked young too, but no beard for me. Now I no longer look young. What happened. Time marches on, and we march with it. Keep ministering to the youth. They need mature leaders to show them the way. They respect and love you and they are certainly watching your every move.

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