You might be a junior high youth worker if…

…you’ve thought about growing your hair and shaving your goatee but just can’t. Personally, I also insist on wearing baggy shorts, Vans shoes, and surf shirts. Look, if I wanted to wear Dockers and a button-down, I’d work for Microsoft…or be a high school pastor.

…you’ve rented The Princess Bride to show at a lock-in. This movie’s a great reminder that we don’t have to be edgy or controversial to have fun. If we aren’t waving the banner of good, clean fun for our students, who is?

…your spouse works part time at Starbucks and still brings home a bigger paycheck. Let me remind you of something you’ve certainly told yourself before: You didn’t get into this for the money. Besides, free iced mochas are a pretty good perk!

…you’ve toilet-papered your senior pastor’s house. It didn’t sound like a great idea at first, but once you got there it felt pretty good, huh?

…you’ve been blamed for a stain on the carpet in the fellowship hall. Chances are it was the junior high ministry, but did the church janitor ever think to question those fruit-punch-loving senior adults?

…you used to play Chubby Bunny. Did a student really choke to death playing this game? I’m not sure, but I’m done playing. Additionally, I’ve sold all my marshmallow stock due to plummeting sales.

…you’ve given away a WWJD bracelet as a prize. It was probably a few years ago, and you’ve likely tried to block it from your memory. Remember…the road to recovery begins with recognition.

…you’ve used a VeggieTales clip as a teaching tool. I can’t explain it, but this is still a guaranteed winner. My favorite clip of all time: the little soldier peas mocking Joshua in Josh and the Big Wall!

…you’ve considered creating your own blog. I don’t really know for sure what a blog is, but I’ve thought about creating one.

…you’ve spent hard-earned vacation time in a cabin full of 7th-graders. You didn’t sleep much and went back to work in worse shape than when you left, but lives were changed and you’d do it again next week if you were asked.

…you’ve thought about quitting-today! I’m not sure if a day goes by that I don’t think about transitioning to an easier ministry area. I’m not sure if a day goes by that God doesn’t remind me of the importance of my calling.

…you’ve been the victim of students pouring warm water into your hand while you slept. Like I said, not a day goes by….

…you really want an iPod. Okay, you don’t have to be a junior high worker to really want an iPod. But you do have to be a junior high worker to figure out how to convince the church elders that the junior high department really needs an iPod!

…you’ve bought a Palm Pilot but never use it. You will, however, use your iPod. Trust me.

…you’ve caught yourself telling a booger joke in your adult small group. Or you’ve giggled because you “cut one” and nobody knew it was you.

…you’ve had high school students return to say thanks. They hardly ever say it when they’re in junior high, but they will eventually.

Kurt Johnston is the junior high minister at Saddleback Church in California, and he’s the co-author of the book Full of It: Ideas to Fill Youth Ministry Volunteers With Encouragement (Group).

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