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10 Commandments for Youth Pastors

Near the end of Jen Bradbury’s newest book, Called: A Novel About Youth Ministry Transitions, the main character experiences quite a bit of growth in her understanding of calling, self-knowledge, and what it means to find the right ‘fit’ with a church. She journals these 10 Commandments for Youth Pastors. Each time I read them (marko here), I found myself somewhat breathlessly looking for something to pound with my fist while shouting out my agreement. When I read them again during the proofreading stage of the book’s development, I just thought they needed to be shared.

  1. You shall have no other gods before God. No pastor, no position, and no parent—regardless of how powerful they are—is your god.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol. Your job cannot and should not be your idol.
  3. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, no matter how frustrated you get with the kids, their parents, or your new colleagues.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Your Sabbath is not and cannot be Sunday. That is a workday for you. But you will rest—at least one full day each week. This will help you remember that there is one Savior and it’s not you.
  5. Honor the fathers and mothers as well as the other grownups who are significant in the lives of your kids. They’re not perfect. They will frustrate you. But they’re doing the best they can. What’s more, they’re far more important than you’ll ever be. They, not you, are the primary spiritual influencer in the life of their child.
  6. You shall not murder, nor shall you even think about murdering, that annoying kid, their equally annoying parent, or your boss.
  7. You shall not commit adultery. Your spouse loves you. He always has. She always will.
  8. You shall not steal. That means that you shouldn’t even grab a ream of printer paper to bring home. This church is being exceedingly generous with you. Steward their resources well.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against anyone in your ministry, even when it might seem inconsequential or might\(temporarily) make your life better. When you make a mistake, own it. Apologize when necessary.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, etc. etc. etc. Nor shall you covet another youth pastor’s job. Nor shall you wish you’re back in Egypt, even when it feels like you’re entering the wilderness again. You shall not compare your worst to someone’s else’s best.
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