So, yesterday I gave you some of my "not reasons I do Youth Ministry"…and promised today I'd share WHY I do Youth ministry.
Let me tell you…Youth Ministry (and really any kind of ministry) is not for the faint of heart. If you think you can just show up, you are so totally wrong.
Because teens are difficult people. They are trying to balance being young with growing up, add in a HUMONGOUS dose of hormones making them slightly crazy…well, you just have a recipe for disaster.
But in spite of this, I love working in our Youth Ministry. Because…
#1 - I really enjoy being around teens. Some days are better than others…but I think that's true about all of us. Teens are fun loving people and I'm a fun loving person. Teens love teen-y shows, movies, and books…and my 38 year old tastes are not far off from the tastes of a typical teenager in that respect. There is nothing that can make you feel younger…and then older all at the same time…than hanging out with a bunch of teenagers.
#2 - This is the important one…I just feel this need to love on them. Our teenagers have so many negative things pouring over them that they need to go somewhere to feel some kind of positive love energy. Unfortunately, church is not always where they can find that. And I'll be the first to admit that some of our teens are harder to love than others. Some of that is a clash in our personalities. Some of that is my frustration in seeing our kids not living up to their full potential. Sometimes it's just that I'm not lovable for a moment…and that makes it hard for me to pour out what I'm not feeling. BUT, I think it's so important for teenagers to feel love from someone. They've got to have it…and unfortunately they aren't always getting that at home.
#3 - Many of our kids need people who will not only love them, but actually hear what they say. I can be honest - I don't always "hear" what my kid says. Because he is mine and my agenda in raising him is to raise him to be a responsible adult. And there are days that I don't want to hear his opinion, his reasoning, or just his general words. But someone, somewhere needs to hear those words. And I know that he has places to get those out. More than that, our kids need people who can give them wise counsel…and I don't know about you, but I never saw my parents as "wise" people (that has changed by the way…but at 16, 17, etc. they were not wise in my eyes). All kids are like that, though…they don't think their parents know jack-diddly-squat…but someone who is not "raising" them? Those people have all the knowledge. I want to give them a good Godly place to receive that wise counsel...because if they can't get it from me, they'll try to find it elsewhere. And there is no guarantee that what they will hear is truly Godly...or even good.
#4 - I am constantly brokenhearted for our teens. When our teens mess up, this weighs heavily on me. I take responsibility. I want to make sure that whatever has happened doesn't happen again. I want them to see that I truly understand what it means to make stupid, teenage mistakes that have important, adult consequences. I want to grieve with them…I want to weep with them…I want to get angry with them…and I want to heal with them. I pray for them often…sometimes collectively…sometimes individually. I just want to see them be the best part of who they are. I want to do whatever I can to encourage them in this…to encourage them to use their talents…to see that they become the best version of their self.
#5 - Not only do I want to love on them, I want to pour the love of Jesus on them. I want them to understand and know what real-time grace & mercy feel like. I want them to understand that so well that they have no other choice than to pour that out on others around them. I want them to SHINE with the love of Jesus in this very dark world. There's no way I can effectively explain God's love…I don't think I really & truly understood exactly what God did for us until I had my own child. And I know that I could never do for anyone else what God did for me. The best way for me to try to make our teens understand this is by loving them with this amazing kind of love.
I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I'm not trying to say that I am. I've made mistakes…I've messed up…and here's the truth - I'll probably do it again.
At the end of the day, though, if I'm not willing to love our students, then I might as well not even bother showing up.
And THAT, my friends, is why I DO youth ministry. It's not for me…it's only for God's glory…to bring honor to Him. And for this time, He has given me this awesome opportunity to do all of the above. I can't imagine a more important and more fun ministry to be a part of.
Other than children's ministry…and He lets me do that as well.