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when the youth ministry grass isn't always greener

when the youth ministry grass isn't always greener

I was sick. I didn't realize how badly I was infected until recently. I had tried every cure I could think of but I just couldn’t kick the disease. It was eating me alive. I'd been going from place to place for the past 10 years trying to get healed. It just wasn’t working. 

What malady infected me? I had a case “Grass is always greener-itis.”

Chances are, many of you may be infected as well. It’s a chronic disease that causes you to continually look at other churches, ministries, and youth pastors and say, “If only…” 

You’ll be hard pressed to find two words as harmful as these! Over the years they’ve caused a ton of heartache and frustration for youth workers. They build on the feeling that our present circumstances are untenable and add an unreal vision of “what could be.”  

“If only I had “X” I’d be happy.” 

In ministry, we often face struggles in our ministries. Maybe our Senior Pastor came down on us for no reason. Or a parent we thought was our friend went behind our backs gossiping or complaining. Maybe the star student we'd been mentoring for graduated from high school and his or her faith. When we get rocked with these types of struggles, we then look at our paltry paychecks, our office in the corner of the basement with the computer from 1995, or whatever else is eating at us that particular day and we think, “Its GOT to be better somewhere else!” 

Let me tell you friends, from a recovering “grass is greener-it is” sufferer, the grass isn't always greener. I know from experience.

I thought in my first ministry, a part time ministry where I got little pay and less respect, that IF ONLY I got a full-time ministry things would be great. 

I got that full time ministry, but I ran into some fairly significant issues with an individual leader. I remember thinking that IF ONLY I found a place where the leadership was all on the same page things would be great. 

After a couple of more stops where things weren’t perfect, my illness would kick in. I would hear the “if only’s” in my head, and my neck would begin to crane looking for the next patch of greener grass. The problem is that I missed a lot of what was right in front of me looking for the next perfect fit.

Each stop along the road I thought that I would find true ministry happiness somewhere else. The cliché holds true:  The grass isn't always greener on the other side. Just because you see all the smiles, and hear all the good things about another church or ministry doesn't mean its all sunshine, and rainbows, and puppies. 

You are where you are, for better and for worse. If we really believe in God’s sovereignty, we have to believe that God knew you’d be where you are. He didn’t stop you. He allowed you to be in your specific context. Our goal should be to grow where God has planted us, even though it might be a challenge. Let your roots grow deep in his love and grace. These strong roots will nourish you in times of famine, protect you when the wind blows, and connect you to others to gain their strength as well.  

And these deep roots are a sure-fire cure for “grass is greener-it is.”



About The Author

Bill Nance

Bill Nance

Bill is a 15 year youth ministry veteran, which means he has a goatee with gray hair. He currently volunteers with his church in the youth ministry, but also gets to speak to teens across the midwest. Thanks to his "day job" with a large secular non profit (where he also gets to help churches fulfill Matthew 25), he can give freely of his time and energy to ministering to teens. He also has a passion for equipping youth ministers. He has been able to write and teach about youth ministry in a variety of settings. Most importantly, he is married to the most beautiful girl on the planet and has 4 kids under the age of 8. Its a crazy life. You can follow Bill's descent into madness (and read some good youth ministry insight as well) at his blog,