This faulty image-the "perfect parent"-must be destroyed. We're not perfect people with perfect lives. We're fragile, sometimes broken, sometimes healed people who offer ministry through our unique personal growth and development. My best years of ministry are the years ahead. Having been humbled, I'm more sensitive toward hurting people, more aware of my sins, and more forgiving toward others. These qualities could have been heightened through other means, but the pain of my depression taught me more lessons than I thought possible.


Youth ministry teaches us that we live in glass houses-it's impossible to suffer a personal problem or emotional pain without people noticing. My sources of support already knew something was going on with me-I just helped them fill in the blanks. But remember-if some believers find out that you're suffering, they may not be so charitable. They may spread rumors. (Christians aren't always kind to hurting, struggling leaders.) Or their faith in the caricature of the perfect leader may be shattered-which may also shake their faith in God.


But try to keep in mind that what you will lose is the baggage of a make-believe image. One that's pathological and worth losing. And I've found that by remaining in ministry while struggling through crisis, I received more loving support than I expected.


Hopefully as you encounter your struggles, you can demonstrate to others how broken people-how broken youth workers-ought to be healed.


Steve Blackshear is a 17-year veteran of youth ministry, having served in four churches in three states. He's youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Corvallis in Oregon. The above author bio was current as of the date this article was published. (c) 2000 Youth Specialties. Click here to subscribe to YouthWorker Journal.