Wednesday, November 12, 2014

You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me...

Yesterday I was in our local Publix grocery store and was standing in line to check out. A young man behind me in line commented on the t-shirt I was wearing, which has the following writing on the back:

He asked me if I was in youth ministry, and I told him not any more but that I had been a youth pastor for many years. He mentioned that he was serving as a youth pastor at a local non-denominational church. We began to chat about ministry, and he confessed that that his goal was to be a worship leader in a contemporary church and that this was just a step along that path, a way to pay the bills while he was searching. My response was to encourage him and talk about how there is much to learn from youth ministry that applies to all ministries and how he could still use his gift of worship leading with the kids. His comeback floored me. He said, "Yes, I find ways to do the things I like to do. It's not a bad job. I'm just not crazy about teenagers. If it was a different age group I'd love what I'm doing now."

His words left me dumbfounded, and I didn't really respond- because in my mind a plan was forming to run over him in the parking lot! My thought has always been that there are only two real prerequisites to being in youth ministry. One, you need to love Jesus. And two, you need to love the weird, wild. crazy, messy, amazingly wonderful people we call teenagers. One out of two does not cut it. I left the store hurting for him, his church and especially the students who are getting short-changed by a youth pastor whose heart is somewhere else. 

Maybe I am overreacting, but for me, youth ministry was a calling and a blessing- a lifestyle, not a job. Sharing life and God's love with teenagers gave me some of the great moments of my life and of the lives of so many of my friends. This guy didn't understand how blessed he was to have the opportunity. That makes me want to grab him, shake him, and just say "C'MON, MAN!

And just for the record, I did not run him over in the parking lot. This time...

Because of Jesus,

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