Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What I Want to be When I Grow Up

As anyone who knows me or has at least read my blogger profile knows, I am studying to get a master's degree in Youth Ministry. I can't even begin to list the ways that this program has transformed my life, not to mention how I understand my calling, but that's beside the point for now. It's easy, in the day-to-day, year-to-year journey to get caught up in the busyness and lose focus. It's easy to forget why I have a heart for youth ministry and the ways I think God wants to use me. Yes, I can tell you that I want to work with girls and young women on women's issues but sometimes I forget why.

And then I do an internet search on an author that leads me to some "leaders" in youth ministry, people that I heard speak back in the days when I was in youth group. People that made me roll my eyes then and make me roll my eyes now. And in that eye rolling I was reminded of my call and why there is such a desire in me to serve youth- I want to do things differently. I remember having so many questions, concerns, and complaints about the way things were done when I was in a youth group, but I didn't know how to put them into words. And I certainly didn't have any solutions. Now that I'm older and studying what it means to do youth ministry and to live my life as a ministry, I can articulate what was wrong and how to do things differently. There needs to be more love. There needs to be mentoring. Kids don't need gimmicks and more entertainment. It leads to shallow or non-existent faith. They need real spiritual food just like adults do. They need to be shepherded and discipled. Leave your scare tactics and guilt trips at home. Those may be good for momentary decisions, but they don't lead to lasting change and spiritual formation.

Honestly, I look back and wonder why we went to all the events/conferences we went to. Oh, I know they were fun, and we would have greatly protested had our youth pastor not taken us, but for all the money and time spent what spiritual fruit was produced? It is more important that we build genuine relationships with youth than to entertain them. They are God's beloved entrusted to us to wisely guide, mentor, and love. We must be examples. We have to live the same life we are asking them to embrace. We have to model love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Who cares if you are a great speaker or you have the best band or you wear the coolest clothes or you have all sorts of game systems and high-tech stuff to keep your youth entertained? That stuff doesn't matter! What matters are the relationships you build and the love you share. That's it. Without those relationships, without love and a foundation of trust, you'll lose them every time. Once they're out of youth group, odds are against them staying in church and continuing to grow spiritually. But strong relationships with adults, besides relationships with their parents, greatly increase the odds that they will stay in church and not abandon their faith.

We can't afford to be anything less than spirit-filled mentors and leaders. The question is, do we care? Do we care enough to completely abandon everything but God's call on our lives? Do we care enough to let go of our bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness so that we can live a life of over flowing love and grace? Do we care enough about people old and young, believers or otherwise, to live a life that will most assuredly be marked with suffering, and yet still have joy and peace in our hearts? Do we care enough to become spiritual adults so that we can have wisdom and discernment? Or would we much rather just throw them into the world and hope they sort it out for themselves?

I ask all of that to myself as much as to anyone else. It serves as a challenge to me. I need to continue to grow and mature in Christ. I can't ever stop. I can never stop. Ever.

Lord, make me more like you. May my life be of service to you and for you. May I never stop hungering for you. May I never stop pursuing you. Lord, give me the strength to persevere til the end! In your name...Amen.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.- Matt. 5:6

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. - Hebrews 12:1

No comments: