BREAKING NEWS: Life isn’t easy. The continual grind quickly becomes tiresome and laborious. We easily find ourselves working countless hours as we pour into others, lead various youth events, facilitate church activities, and prepare lessons. And then at the end of day, it often appears that the litany of hours yields little fruit. Burnout and discouragement quickly creep up, leaving us emptied and doubting.

Don’t get me wrong, youth ministry is amazing and incredibly beneficial. My whole life for the last 5 years has revolved around it. Yet if we aren’t careful, we gain tunnel vision and fail to refresh ourselves with Scriptural truths that remind us of our purpose and passion. Without a flowing river of truth, we will inevitably become barren and burnt out. Therefore, my purpose for this blog is not necessarily to inform but to remind and refresh with Scripture. Truly, when Scripture begins to light our path, we can see both our ministries and our lives much clearer.

Here are 5 Scripture passages I have found to be encouraging, and that I believe every youth pastor and leader should meditate on during the ebbs and flows of daily ministry:

Philippians 4:6-76 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

I quickly become overwhelmed and burnt out in my youth ministry because I foolishly try to juggle all the plates. I selfishly think I can get it all done, do it well, and bring forth perfect results. But so often, I don’t, which then leads me to feeling like a failure. But in this verse God makes all Christians a beautiful promise. We are promised peace from above when we stop trying to do it all and just start giving our requests and burdens over to Him. Can you imagine not being anxious about any aspect of your youth ministry? What peace are you missing out on in ministry because you did not give your requests over to God?

1 Corinthians 3:6 – I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

Maybe this is just a me thing, but I can all too easily make ministry a competition. For instance, say I spend six months pouring into a kid on the outskirts of our youth group. Over the past few weeks, I finally see his walls breaking down and know a deep conversation is coming. But then in small groups, another leader ends up having a spiritual conversation with that same teen and begins to disciple him. Is my reaction: “How unfair! This was my teen,” or “Praise the Lord for His guiding hand in our youth group”? We are all on the same team, and at the end of the day, our goal is to glorify the Savior and proclaim His good news. Ministry is not a solo but a beautiful ensemble. Instead of comparing and competing, may we praise God knowing He cares deeply and is working immensely!

1 Timothy 4:7-8 – 7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

Since January, this passage has become our youth group’s motto. The past few months, I have hammered home with the teens the importance of prioritizing God above all else and purposefully committing to growing in Him. But the more I meditate on our motto and Paul’s instruction, the more I see my focus on the things of the world outweighing my desire for the things of God. We all want our teens to grow in godliness, and we all want to help them train for it. But one of the best ways to help them train for godliness is by prioritizing our personal time with God over our time with the world. Our youth ministries simply won’t survive, much less thrive, unless we as the leaders are faithfully in the Word and talking with our Creator. We must also train alongside our students.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – 3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Pain, sadness, and unfortunate circumstances happen even to youth pastors, yet ministry continues on. How can we serve others when we can barely go on ourselves? Thankfully, we can find our source for ministry not in our determination to power through alone but in receiving comfort from our caring God, which then enables us to comfort others.

Galatians 6:9 – And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Simply put, don’t give up! Don’t give up on your ministries. Don’t give up on your students. Don’t give up on your church. But most importantly, don’t give up on your God. No matter what you may see or interpret, God is at work. Allow Him to worry about the behind-the-scenes matters while you continue to serve faithfully. And as we serve, we can rest knowing by His good grace we will reap a harvest.

I pray these Scriptures brought some encouragement and exhortation your way. In the hustle of ministry, we need daily (if not hourly) times where we stop the busyness, immerse ourselves in Scripture meditation, and prayerfully praise our loving Father. It is only through looking to God and His magnificent character that we find comfort and perseverance. And as we look to Him, we will find our desire to serve, to disciple, and to preach renewed daily. When we find our source in Him, youth ministry is no longer measured by our ability and success, but the gracious work of the Savior that can transform the lives of our teens. And let me tell you, that makes it all worth it!