Sunday, May 20, 2012

In Search of the Methuselah?

        I would like to find the Oldest Living Full-Time Paid Youth Worker.  I am not belittling those who volunteer or are part-time.  I give you my fullest and deepest respect.  I could not do what I do without my dedicated amazing team of volunteers. Youth ministry in the purest and best sense of the word is done in smaller churches by people who are not paid or barely paid. 
     Here is the deal, to give you a little personal perspective.  I love what I do...most days.  I have been doing youth ministry for about 18 years, I am 37ish years old, and I just finished a Masters in middle education (5th-9th) with an emphasis in social students and language arts.  You might ask why not seminary, my answer has been "there are no 65 year old youth pastors, let alone JH/MS youth pastors".  I love Middle School/Jr. High students and I feel like I have a life-time call. My rationale has been the same all along even in my undergrad, a double major in counseling psych. & theology/religion, to work with students for a life-time.  The plan has always been to move into a school or non-church setting after I am "too old".

      A wider perspective is that there is much talk about longevity in youth ministry and a growing professionalism in what we do.   Youth ministry is finally not being looked as a "stepping stone ministry".  The life span of a youth pastor has finally lived down the urban legend of 2 years at a church and 6-8 years overall...or something similar.   After having lunch recently with a "big wig" in the youth ministry world, I will refrain from name-dropping and a couple of conversations over recent years with other "names", I feel like there might be hope for a longer run at this whole thing for those of us in youth ministry. I am encourage by books, blogs, and trainings all seeming to say that the "life-span" is getting longer.

    The question then is who and where is the Methuselah? I would love to hear about you.  I would love to talk to you.  I would love to write an epic ballad of your exploits and adventures...or at least buy you lunch?

       Not to be picky about the the qualifiers of this person, but I would like to find a real live person doing day to day life with students.  I know the buzz phrase is "leading leaders", and I am not try to offend the authors, speakers, trainers, professors and big thinkers of the youth ministry world (you will probably never read this but just in case..) I know your full-time job is to help me and others do our job better, I appreciate it thank you very much.  I am looking for someone who is still in the trenches paid full-time that personally knows and loves on students.  Someone that is teaching and leading a ministry.  I want to find you because I would like know if I can make it that long too. I would like to hear your words of wisdom that you have.  Can I still be doing this in 10 years (at 47)....20 years (57) or 28 years (at 65.. because I AM retiring at 65 lets not push it!) 

     Who do you know? Who are you? Can you help me? Let the Search Begin* 

(* if all goes well in my search, I hope post about the person & people that I discover along with I would like to work up a publishable piece as well? )