A couple weeks ago I posted a blog about the things I hate about student ministry. It was all true — sometimes this line of work can be brutal. But even as I wrote it I was afraid I was giving the wrong idea. Even with all the difficult things, I’m not sure there’s a more worthy calling than student ministry.
So, here are three things that I love about student ministry.
Being a Part of a Kid’s Story
If your life was a story, who would some of your heroes be? I bet if you sat down and thought about that and wrote down five or six names, more than half of them would be people you knew when you were a teenager. Mine are: parents and teachers and coaches and preachers and other adults that helped me along. One of the most rewarding things of working in student ministry is coming alongside a students life during that time.
They say a student needs five adults rooting them on to get out of adolescents in one piece. It is really cool to sometimes be one of those five. It is a joy to point them toward Jesus. I love it, in fact.
Seeing kids commit to Jesus is why we do this!
Seeing Those “Aha” Moments
Nothing beats it. You teach and you pray and you love and you counsel and finally…finally…a kid gets it. You can see their eyes light up. Tears fall as they realize the love that God has for them. Conviction is expressed in a debriefing session on a mission trip. They reach out to a friend who is hurting without having to come to you first. They grow up. They realize their place. They absorb a truth. They make a change.
For every Aha Moment there are probably a thousand moments of work — parents and mentors and ministers and friends all working together toward it. But when the moment happens, it’s magical. It makes all the rest of the student ministry grind so worth it.
Guiding Students’ Passion
Some people think that this generation is lazy and selfish. The people that think that probably don’t talk to teenagers very often.
Teenagers don’t suffer from apathy, but they may suffer from not being challenged to rise to new levels of passion and contribution. They get chewed up and spit out by academic and athletic pursuits. But if you point a kid toward a ridiculous goal, it’s not uncommon to see them achieve it. Especially if it involves serving others.
Some students of ours in the Dominican Republic last Spring Break
I’ve seen it — in the slums of Santiago, Dominican Republic and impoverished rural America and in the urban core. I’ve seen it in Mexico City in orphanages. And I’ve seen it as students grew up, became adults, and gave their whole lives to the noble work of building communities, raising their kids, and serving the least of these. They are teachers and doctors and a bunch of other stuff and they’re using their gifts to build a Kingdom you may not be able to see but is most definitely coming. No, they are not lazy. They’re just waiting for someone to wind them up and turn them loose.
Is student ministry tough? Sure. Are there things about it I wish didn’t exist? Definitely. But the moments of joy make the moments of anguish much easier to endure.
So hang in there, youth ministers. You are making an impact.