Today is the last day of school, and my wife and kids are about to disappear. Or maybe I’m about to disappear. What I mean is we’re about to not see each other much. Every youth minister reading this knows why —
Ready or not, summer is here.
There are camps and conferences and special events and oh-yeah-we-still-have-our-regular-weekly-stuff-to-do-too. The next few months are booked solid, and I bet my family isn’t the only youth ministry family on the planet trying to figure out when we’ll actually be under the same roof again.
Next Tuesday, my wife leaves for a short term missions trip to the Dominican Republic. Before she can even get back to the good old U.S.A., I leave to run a week of Jr. High Camp. I get back on Friday, June 20, only to leave again on Monday, June 23 for a short term mission trip in South Dakota. I am returning early on Friday, June 27 before the rest of our team so that I can come home, pick up my son, and take him to his first experience at church camp for the weekend. Then all of a sudden it’s June 30. From the time school gets out to the end of the month, my entire family will be together for seven or eight days, and that’s if there are no travel delays or missed flights.
We start off July with a brief mirage of normalcy, spending the first five days together at home (though rumors of a quick overnight trip to Sea World are beginning to circulate). Then my daughter goes to church camp from July 6-11, and on the 11th we’re picking her up and driving our kids to St. Louis. We’re leaving them there for a long visit with family and friends so we can fly back to Texas and go to high school camp with kids from church on July 14-18. Afterward, my wife will return to St. Louis while I stay back in Texas to work. I then fly to St. Louis for my mom’s birthday celebration at the end of the month, but then come back to Texas leaving my family behind once again. Truly, after our first week together at the beginning of July, our whole family will be under the same roof for about three days the rest of the month.
My wife and kids will stay in St. Louis catching up with old friends through the first couple weeks of August, and I will go fetch them for the return drive to Texas, squeezing in a week(ish) of vacation myself before we hit the road back. Hopefully my kids will remember what I look like and will actually get in the van, because we’ve taught them not to enter a vehicle with strangers.
I’m not writing this so you’ll feel sorry for me. With everyone going every which way we have the unique opportunity to spend some quality one-on-one times–Daddy/Daughter stuff, Father/Son stuff, date nights, etc. All four of us may not be together much this summer, but some combination of us is together fairly often. My kids love going to Missouri and barely miss me while they’re there. I love my work as a youth minister and though the summers are tiring, they are also quite rewarding. I also enjoy a supportive leadership that will shoo me away to have family time when they sense I need it. And I’ve got some free Southwest flights coming to me, so we’re not even going to break the bank with the going back and forth from the Great Republic of Texas to the midwest.
I’m really only writing this as an encouragement for my fellow youth ministers out there. I am with you. Our schedules are about to crank up, and it’s a fun time of year. Hang in there. Breath deeply. Take a nap when you can. Hug your kids extra. Schedule in a date night. And thank God you live in the FaceTime age. You’re doing a good work. It’s hard, but nothing worth doing is easy.
So save a pic of your family to your phone background, manage the little time you have with them this summer wisely, and lean into the next three months and give it all you got.