Ten years ago today I entered my office and began my first day of work as a full-time youth pastor. For years I had served as a volunteer, but this was day one of vocational ministry. As I have been reflecting on my first ten years, many faces and memories flood my mind. I have learned many things along the way – just as many through “failure” as through “success” – but through some time of processing I have come up with a list of the top 10 things I have learned. Here’s my list:

10. Join a network of diverse youth workers for encouragement and sharpening.
9. Just as much learning happens along the journey as when you arrive at the destination. Capitalize on the teachable moments along the way.
8. The first people to run to you when you arrive are also usually the first people to leave you.
7. Exercise – both physical and spiritual – is essential to being a healthy youth worker.
6. Small groups make a big difference.
5. Keep moving. Some days it’s just about putting one foot in front of the other.
4. Longevity leads to credibility.
3. Youth ministry isn’t really about teenagers; it’s about helping to shape godly adults.
2. If you really love students, invite and invest in adult youth leaders.
1. Your family is your #1 ministry.

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