2 Ways to Deal with Youth Ministry Disappointment

I promise you it will come.

Things are going to be moving along nicely.  There will be nothing unusual coming your way.  Really just a typical day.  Then it will hit.  And often it hits hard.


It’s the quiet killer in youth ministry.

Disappointment is one of the those quiet and sneaky emotions that can become a killer.  The difficult thing is that it can come in all kinds of forms.

  • a good student messing up
  • not getting the position you were hoping for
  • neglectful parents
  • a senior pastor who doesn’t get or support the youth ministry

Here’s the truth.  You will experience disappointment in your ministry.  It is not a matter of “if” but “when”.  If I am right about that, (and I think I am) then it would be wise to have a way to deal with it.

Here are two ways that  you can deal with disappointment in youth ministry.

 1. Consider Theology vs. Emotions

Hear me clearly.  Emotions are an important part of who we are.  God has made us emotional beings.  It would be very unwise to try to suppress all of our emotions.  However it is also important to put emotions in their place.

Who God is, is far more important then how you feel.

If we truly believe that God is sovereign, then why do we get so disappointed if something doesn’t work out like we think it should.  It is ok, God is in control.

I understand the initial disappointment, but then we have to remind ourselves of who God is.  Our theology MUST trump our emotions.

2. Stick to the Plan

When the disappointment comes you need to do a mental exercise.  This exercise is very simple, here it is;

  • pause
  • remind yourself of the big picture
  • smile
  • unpause (not sure if that is a really word)

Most disappointment in youth ministry is not of the life altering, tectonic plate shifting magnitude.  It hurts, but it is not that huge.  So don’t make any rash decisions.

In fact this is the most important time for you to remind yourself of God’s mission for your life.  His game plan for you.  The big picture of your life.  God has never promised to remove disappointment or pain from our life.

The key is in this disappointment to not deviate from God’s plan in your life.  In fact this disappointment might be part of God’s plan.

See and Hear God in It

So there you have it.  It might not be very slick or simple but it has worked for me.  So my prayer is that when you experience disappointment in youth ministry that you see and hear God in it.

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Tyson Howells

Tyson is the associate youth ministry director for Vanguard Youth Ministry Institute. He has been a youth pastor for many years in Winnipeg as well as in Edmonton. Tyson is passionate in seeing relational youth ministry that results in youth that are passionate about following Jesus. He still leads a small group at the youth group in his home church.