Sunday, May 30, 2010

Uncredited Glory

If you were to enter the Jones house between 6 AM and 8 AM on pretty much any Monday-Friday, you would find Marilyn and Will getting ready for work and school.  You would find me fixing breakfast.  And you would find our TV set to ESPN2 and Mike and Mike in the Morning.  I have been watching Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic for years, both for sports news and their great sense of humor.  They are quite famous, appearing on TV and radio four hours a day, plus the occasional SportsCenter and other specials.  They get to attend events and do things (broadcasting Monday Night Football and throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field, for instance) that most of us can only dream of.  The get more than their share of glory.  They also get bashed by others in media on a regular basis for a variety of reasons.  A couple of weeks ago they shared a story that really hit home with me, and I wanted to share it with you today.

It seems that the Mikes had a scene in the current movie Just Wright.  They played themselves, doing their show and trashing the basketball playing main character of the film.  The scene is pivotal to the plot; after hearing the guys kill his rep on air, the player retreats to his house, where he is shown sitting in his bedroom watching a narrated documentary on jellyfish.  It sets the scene for his comeback, which is the primary storyline of the movie.  Golic (the big Mike) went to see the movie opening weekend with his family, and sat in the theater afterwards to see his name in the credits.  He saw hundreds of names roll by, but no Greeny or Golic.  He saw the "Jellyfish Narrator" credited by name, but no mention of his own.  It seems that their pivotal roles had gone uncredited- and neither of them were happy about it! 

Their story made me think about my life in student ministry.  When you plan major trips and events and things go right, you bask in the glory.  When things go wrong, you suffer the embarrassment and humiliation.  To those around you it must seem like you live your life in the spotlight.  But the fact is, the most important things you do as a youth pastor are things that very few people know about.  Maya Angelou (Thanks, Brook!) once said  "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."  That is a brilliant description of youth ministry.  The true ministry of a youth pastor takes place in-between the big events and programs. That is when you can truly show them Jesus.  It takes place when a student gets dumped by his girlfriend and they call you for advice.  It takes place when a student's parents are splitting up, and he shows up at your house to talk.  It happens when they have partied too much and can't drive home, and they call you for a ride.  It happens when a young lady travels thousands of miles to see her boyfriend, only to find him with another woman- and she needs a shoulder to cry on.  It happens when a 16 year-old girl has a wreck and doesn't know what to do, and she comes running into your office looking for answers- and hugs.  True youth ministry takes place when the students understand that you love them and will be there for them. No judgement, no condemnation- just love.   The church does not see or read about these moments, but the kids know.  And Jesus knows.  This is the uncredited glory.

I remember in the early 1980's at New Garden getting a call from a young woman whose ex-boyfriend had shown up at her house drunk and violent, and I went to get him.  I remember driving across Tampa to pick up a young woman from Wesley Memorial after her father had thrown her out of his house.  I remember a long conversation with a young man whose family and friends had bailed on him, and he was thinking abut throwing his life away.  You know what all of those situations had in common?  They all took place AFTER I was no longer the youth pastor of the students involved.  To know that I had a lasting impact on the lives of some of the youth I ministered to was all the credit and all the glory anyone could ask for.  I no doubt failed more times than I succeeded;  but I hope I showed the students I served that Jesus will never fail them.  That was always my goal, even if sometimes I lost sight of it.  Today and everyday I thank God for the opportunities He gave me to impact the lives of students in Jesus' name.  Like Greeny and Golic, my name (and the names of countless other youth pastors) may not always show up in the credits here in this world, but, because of Jesus, I know that "When the roll is called up Yonder I'll be there..."  And that is all the credit anyone could pray for!

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous5/30/2010

    I only survived high school because I had a youth pastor who listened and cared. So many of my friends did not. Thanks to all of you who are willing to love teenagers in the name of Jesus.

  2. Anonymous5/30/2010

    Great post and message but I have to argue that I KNOW you helped more than you did not.....

  3. Anonymous5/30/2010

    Carl, you are dead on brother! Most ministry takes place in the unplanned and uncredited moments! Thanks for all of the years you were there for kids. -Tic

  4. Thanks for the kind words, everyone. It was a pleasure to serve students in Jesus' name!

  5. Fantastic post! Thank you so much for sharing your heart!

    About a year or two ago I looked into being a volunteer with the youth group at the church I was attending. (The group was still trying to get off the ground.) You have inspired me, and the idea of being a part of a youth group (as one of the "counselors") has started rolling around in my mind again. I really enjoy working with teenagers.

    Also, I have to echo the first comment here in saying how much youth group meant to me while I was in high school. I felt we were a family (1 Corinthians 12:12) and truly laughed together and cried together (Romans 12:15). I wish my older children had that and I am hopeful my younger kiddos will when they reach high school age. :)

  6. Anonymous5/31/2010

    I remember you teaching us that our youth group sould live like they did in Acts 2:42- sharing everything and praying together. You made us a family. Thank you.

  7. Anonymous5/31/2010

    I always knew I could call on you for anything, even years after you quit being my youth minister. That still has not changed. Thak you!

  8. Anonymous6/01/2010

    I never entered a room you were in when I did not feel loved. When you are 13-17 years old and don't really like yourself, that is an amazing thing. Thank you, CJ! KW


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