I have had the privilege of being able to serve in youth ministry for about eight years now. Over the course of these years, I have experienced many powerful God moments and enough shenanigans to make me laugh out loud for days. I love my role as a youth minister not only because of its importance but also because my work is dynamic. Some days the focus is on the students (6th-12th grade), and some days the focus is on the young adult leaders. No matter where the focus is, I am constantly getting to pour into a younger generation who is hungry for the Word, and that is the beauty of youth ministry.
It is really neat to see those you have mentored grow and mature in their faith. Most of the young leaders were once the students being served that have graduated and taken on a leadership role. Harrison is one of the people that comes to mind. There is a huge difference in faith he has today then the first time we meet. Our first encounter was nothing short of a quick conversation about how weird church people are; now Harrison has no problem being that weird person who wants to share his experiences about God.
The students, and young leaders have a hunger for truth, righteousness, and growth. They want to live and thrive in the presence of Jesus. In our youth group, we are currently going through a series on serving. The other week, one of the students in my group had several amazing ideas on how we could prepare meals for needy families and the homeless. While he was speaking, I could hear the heart of Jesus. I cannot help but smile as I think about all the ways God is using and going to use these students.
Last summer, there was a period of time when I was unable to do yard work and tend to my garden. It lasted for about two weeks, and those weeks were filled with heat and no watering. I was expecting all my plants to have died by the time I got back out there, but the tomatoes did the opposite. Not only did they continue to grow, but they grew out of their box; overflowing into the yard and producing more tomatoes. That is the picture of growth and development that I want to be a part of in youth ministry. Even in the toughest situations, I can watch my students and leaders grow and thrive.
Unfortunately, I know that there are some who do not want to grow in Christ. The toughest part of my job is seeing a former student or leader who was once thriving on God, turn from Him. I know that their faith is a personal choice they have made. But on the other hand, I can’t help but wonder what I could have done differently. Did I focus my lessons too much on fun rather than God? Did I put too much emphasis on truth without thinking about how they would receive it?
I have found that the ultimate challenge in this calling lies in conveying the truth in such a way that the students and leaders can receive it. This is a hard job, but it is so very worthwhile and valuable for the kingdom.
If youth ministry is what you are called to, I hope you will be encouraged to develop and grow your youth and young leaders. I pray that you will continue to experience the joy in the Lord within your individual ministries and groups. The youth are treasures in the world, and they hunger for truth and righteousness. So let’s give it to them!