In a conversation with a volunteer (which I didn’t respond hardly at all other than a few head nods, but listened to what this volunteer was saying so I could chew on it and think about it a while) the volunteer expressed the frustration of watching current students and past students and the decisions they are making. Students who have just dropped out because they have decided that something else in life is more important than their faith walk and their relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you are in youth ministry for any length of time you know this frustration. This frustration can take seed in our lives and then lead us to the question what we are doing and is it worth it.
So I’ve been thinking a few days. No genius thought here. Jesus probably got frustrated with the disciples. Matthew 17:17 comes to mind. I’m sure there would be a sense of frustration with me because I don’t always make the best decisions or behave in a manner that reflects Christ.
The example who came to my mind was Peter, some scholars say that Peter was the oldest of the disciples and the others were much younger and in their teen years. Peter who often spoke before he thought or even acted without thinking, the one who strikes me as a person driven by emotions at times, Peter is the one who denied Christ 3 times.
Peter walked with Jesus, Peter ate meals with Jesus, Peter was there to hear Jesus’ teaching and to witness people be healed. Peter lived a few years with Jesus, twenty-four seven. Peter blew it. If I was Peter’s youth pastor I would have been truly frustrated.
Peter later stood before thousands and preached the good news of Jesus Christ. Thousands put their faith in Jesus! If I was Peter’s youth pastor I would have been scratching my head and wondering what has happened in Peter’s life?
The answer, Peter had an encounter with the living Lord. His life was changed.
We don’t know what will become of a student. The teen who we would have held up as the example of a godly youth group kid may down the road of life be running far from God or even denying Christ in his or her own life. The teen who we watched struggle and make poor choices may one day down the road bring others to Jesus Christ.
We don’t know when it will “click” and they meet with the living Lord as Peter did. So what do I do?
I invest in my own spiritual life. I need to set the example.
I remain faithful to my calling. God has called me to serve so that’s what I must do no matter what I see as the “outcome”. No matter how discouraging it might be at times.
I trust God’s sovereignty. I have no clue what the future will hold for me or for the students I ministers to. God does.
I lean on the Holy Spirit in my life to give me the energy to stick with it.
I focus on the successes rather than on the failures. It’s easy to get bogged down and think, “I’ve failed as a minister” when looking at the life of a student who has made poor decisions and is wandering away from Christ. All we can do is minister to them, give them opportunities to grow their faith. The student has to become responsible for their own spiritual growth and own their faith. It’s like putting out the buffet of food but the student has to fill his own plate and put his silverware to use, I can’t force feed him.
So the next time you get frustrated remember to invest, remain, trust and lean.