Long term ministry, alongside the guidance of others that have ministered faithfully throughout the years to teenagers, has taught me and continues to teach me that when my motivation is to be faithful, or rather to respond to God’s faithfulness to me, my motivation is no longer my own. It’s not about me at all. It brings rest and joy even in the midst of chaos because it allows me to trust and rely on God to do the work He has set out to do.
Ministering to teenagers for over 12 years has, much like a teenager, come with a variety of emotions. Days where I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing to days where I dream of a 9-5 office job where I can just clock out for the day. When I began doing youth ministry as a full time intern in 2007, I honestly thought that there was a certain age where you just aged out. Most women in youth ministry I knew moved to a different career in their early 30s or left all together to have children. Most men moved to a “real” ministry position as a pastor or campus minister. At least once a year I’ve been asked and have asked myself, “So, what are you going to do next?”
In that question there’s seems to be an underlying assumption that sometimes catches me off guard even within myself. The assumption that there should be a next. Is this really what you want to do for the rest of your life? In some ways a twinge of (maybe even more than a twinge of), you could do better than this. In my pride, my idol of success and desire to be the best, I struggle with this tension. This tension has been a main tool of sanctification that the Lord has used throughout my life. In my walk with Jesus, am I motivated to be successful or to be faithful?
There has never been a day where I have not known Jesus. I’ve grown up in the church. Both of my parents are believers and love the church. If the doors were open, we were there. I have often said if you were to make a Saturday Night Live “youth group kid” skit, that would’ve been me. There was something so satisfying about being the good Christian kid that everyone wanted to be around.