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Top 10 Keys to Longevity in Youth Ministry

I received this question from a youth worker in December:

I am speaking at a youth ministry event on Longevity in Ministry. I would love to hear back from you on what your top 10 secrets of longevity in ministry are?

Here’s what I wrote in response (in no particular order):

  1. Embrace humility. Ask people to hold you accountable to this.
  2. Have intentional conversations with youth workers who have stayed in one church for 10 years or more. Seek their input.
  3. Make a list of the reasons why longevity is valuable. Pull it out and read it from time to time.
  4. Get over yourself. You are not God’s secret weapon or only option.
  5. Ruthlessly develop intimacy with Jesus. Only when you are deeply connected with Jesus will you be able to set aside your ego and weather the temptations to move on.
  6. Remind yourself regularly that your calling does not come from people, but from god.
  7. Decide how you will measure your success. Bad measures of success = a big program, lots of ego strokes, buzz, impressive numbers. Good measures of success = the faith of former teenagers when they’re in their 20s or 30s (and only longevity allows you to really see that).
  8. Consider the cost to your church, the teenagers you serve, your family, and your own soul of constantly looking over the fence for something “better”.
  9. Eschew power. Power corrupts your calling and falsely inflates your sense of importance.
  10. Value faithfulness over influence.

Oh, and #11: Cultivate a life outside of youth ministry.
How about an even dozen? #12: Be ruthless about establishing and honoring a sustainable rhythm of silence and solitude.

What do you think? What did i miss? And which of these is most difficult for you?

This article was first published at
Photo Credit: Paul Prescott –

One Response to Top 10 Keys to Longevity in Youth Ministry

  1. Elizabeth June 7, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Thanks again Jonathan, It’s evident when books are wrtetin from people who know whats going because they live what they write. I feel like when you address a subject I’m having the same struggles and your barometer of culture and youth ministry are spot on.


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