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Guest Post: The Real You // Tim Livengood

Today’s guest post is by our Youth Pastor at Trinity Church.  Pastor Tim Livengood is responsible for a ton of kids between the 6th and 12th grades at Trinity…and it’s a HUGE undertaking!  I’ve watched Tim walk parents through some tough times, and I’ve watched him teach kids in a service setting; and he’s a great communicator in both places.  He just started a blog this week, so go say hello! I got his permission to steal an email he sent to his leaders a few weeks ago.  Enjoy.

After about 12 years in youth ministry I have come to realize a secret that is probably not much of a secret to most of you. I am not cool enough to be a youth pastor. I am short, not very athletic, can’t surf, don’t have cool hair, and I can’t grow a goatee to save my life. There are times I am guessing you feel the same way about your coolness factor. The feeling hits me the hardest before a youth service. Last week I was trying to have a conversation with a student who I couldn’t get to take their earbuds out of their ears. Deep down I am sure that if I was cooler I could get their attention!

God challenged me on that thinking. I want to be a rock star in a student’s eyes, but if there is one thing I know about rock stars it is that they are unapproachable. They have their sunglasses on as they rush into their limousines with security surrounding them. As cool as rock stars are from a distance, I can’t imagine talking about my loneliness with Bon Jovi. Bono doesn’t care if my brother is cutting himself. I wouldn’t even try to go to one of them with a problem. They are to be admired from a distance. If I need someone to talk to I call my dad.

Our students are the same way. They don’t need rock stars because the more like a rock star you become the more unapproachable you are. They don’t need leaders that are going to look cool, jump onto stage, wow them, then disappear into the back room under cover of security. They need leaders willing to live real lives in front of them and with them. The thing that they need the most is the real you.

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. Jared M · March 17, 2011

    Great reminder Tim. Relationships are vitally important in youth and children’s ministry, way more important than being “the man.” I can’t compete with Bieber anyway, my hair just isn’t that beautiful.

  2. Starr · March 17, 2011

    Having a youth pastor thru HS that was more like a Dad than a rock star made a huge difference in my life. I wasn’t impressed with his cool factor, but over time I was impressed and changed by his genuine love for me and his concern for my spiritual growth.