An internal compass?
You know what a compass looks like. (And I really hope that your only exposure to one isn't the Compass app on your iPhone.) It's got a magnet in it that always points north to the magnetic north pole. In the days before GPS devices, a compass would come in really handy when traveling long distances in areas that you weren't quite familiar with, especially via boat or plane.
An internal compass does the same thing--if it's working right. It will always point in the same direction. I hope you'll forgive me for pushing the compass metaphor perhaps a bit too far in this post, because I'd like to offer a variety of ways that a youth pastor's compass should be pointing, depending on the choices he or she is given:
A youth pastor's internal compass should always point to "Servant." Being a good leader is to be a good servant. Period. Jesus told the Twelve that "Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all" (Matthew 9:35). If you want to lead, you need to serve. And you can't serve just to put in your time and pay your dues as a young pastor. Serving needs to be a hallmark of your leadership, but in your public ministry as well as when no one is around to applaud you as you serve.
One quick side note on serving: Being a servant doesn't mean pleasing everyone. Ironically, many youth pastors aren't great servants, not because they don't want to do things for others, but because they're so used to trying to please everyone that they don't spend a lot of time actually serving them.
A youth pastor's internal compass should always point to "Jesus." I covered this fairly in-depth yesterday, but it bears repeating. Youth pastors need to be committed to following Jesus, whether it brings you applause or it brings you hardship. If you're willing to waiver on this one just a little, it will bring you way off course in the end.
After Jesus, a youth pastor's internal compass should always point to "Family." One of the hardest things to do as a pastor is to take care of your own family. It's easy to want to please people by working really hard, or to justify the neglect of one's family for the sake of serving Jesus. This isn't to say that a pastor's family isn't called to support his ministry through some amount of sacrifice. However, with each new initiative or additional responsibility, a pastor has to ask himself, "how will this affect my spouse and my kids?" Take care of your family.
What are some "directions" add to this list?