Some would say low pay which forces some out of College Ministry is the number one killer of College Ministers. Others would say it is the long and sometimes crazy hours. Or, an argument can be made for growing older and no longer being able to relate to college students effectively. A good case can be made for all of these and most of us know someone that has left for one of these reasons. But, I don't believe either of these is the "main killer".
The two top killers are Comparison and Feeling Alone.
Comparison - Most of us who do or have done College Ministry know the feeling of working yourself silly And not seeing the response you hope to see and seeing another ministry with bigger crowds. Or, we are wrestling with tough issues and other ministries just seem to glide along each year. Comparison is evil. Comparison is wrong. Comparison is UN--Christian. I do it all the time!! Maybe, I'm the only out of control sinner in College Ministry....maybe. Here are some things to remind yourself when you get into comparisons:
1. You never know all that is going on in another ministry.
2. Numbers represent people, but a big crowd is not all there is to it. One of my students suggested we name our worship band, Free Beer. He said we could advertise, "Free Beer at the BCM Thursday Night!". I think we would have had a great crowd that one night. A crowd is not the only measure of success.
3. Long haul faithfulness beats short term flashes. Sometimes, we compare ourselves to the "latest hot thing". Your ministry was there doing well long before the flash and will likely be there going strong after the flash has past.
4. Comparison tempts you to do things that don't fit with your gifts or even cause you to continually be changing your ministry instead of building on proven things.
Feeling Alone or No One Else Cares - as much of a killer as Comaparison is, I think feeling alone and no one else cares is ten times worse! I believe it is the number one killer of College Ministers. People leaving College Ministry because of low salaries and needing to provide for growing families, etc is just a symptom of feeling no one cares. "If people cared, they would provide us with decent salaries". "If people cared, I would have a decent budget for this campus". Things to remember and do when you feel no one else cares:
1. Have one or two friends in College Ministry you can talk to every week and fuss to...be totally honest with.
2. Don't isolate yourself with just college students and your ministry. Our crazy hours and schedule tend to take us out of "the normal adult world". Several years ago, my wife said to me, "You don't know how to talk to anyone but college students". I was working on campus all week and teaching college student Sunday School. I started teaching an adult class and suddenly had more friends! I found out others cared and they learned some things to care about.
3. Go to regional and national conferences that re-juvenate you, remind you of your calling and connect you with old and new friends.
4. Take a day or two off occasionally. The Bible seems to say it is a sin to work 7 days a week.....except if you are in the ministry? I have a friend who works like crazy....then, he takes a couple days off and goes hunting. For a period of years, I took Tuesday afternoon off and scheduled no campus events on Tueaday night. I picked my girls up at school AND we even ate supper at a normal time. I worked hard and lots....just not on Tuesday afternoons and night.
My observations and that of others that know far more than I do indicates that the strongest, largest or most successful College Ministries are run by College Ministers who have been in it long term. To have lots of strong College Ministries we need to have more College Ministers who are not killed out of College Ministry by Comparison and feeling no one cares!