Culture | Discipleship | Leadership | Middle School
Tim Heist

Tim Heist has been serving students for over 8 years. He currently serves as a student ministry pastor at Timberline Church in Fort Collins, Colorado. He has had the opportunity to partner with Simply Youth Ministry through article writing and speaking an Air Time segment at SYMC. Tim is married and enjoys time outdoors with his pup and coaching high school soccer.

There is never a dull moment with middle dchool students. Our middle school ministry is structured so students get to know older students or adult leaders and walk with them through life. Because of that, it is not out of the ordinary to find myself in a story that couldn’t be written in my wildest imagination. I am sure you have stories like these; don’t let them die! Share them with leaders, parents, and other pastors to encourage them to keep fighting for our middle school friends.
These stories have reminded me to invest in a few things, some of these to be a good steward of what God has placed into our care, others to salvage the air.

1.    Invest in Purell—We were at a winter camp in rural Colorado when a middle school boy squeezed in between me and another student. It was during the teaching time and as the speaker went on he decided it was the best time to allow his oversized lollipop to leak down his fingers to his hands and the whole way down to his elbows. As he got my attention with his dripping, sticky and saliva-filled hands, he asked, “You think it be okay if I wash my hands?” I responded, trying to keep the spiritual moment intact, “Just hang tight; we are almost done.” This inspired our young friend to wipe his hands on the carpet only to pick up the dirt, grime and hair from the floor of a weekend-packed retreat center. Oh, and I forgot to mention, I hate sticky hands!

2.    Invest in Breath Mints—This past Christmas Eve service a middle school student and his dad were helping to usher during the candle light service—I love that they were doing that! Between services I popped a Lifesaver in my mouth and was greeting some families. As I came over to our father/son team, the son anxiously got my attention, stopped me, and said, “Breathe on me.” Strange as it was, I figured it would be his loss, so I blew a little in his direction. He paused, looked at me saying, “Yep, your breath smells just like my mom’s lipstick.” How great are middle schoolers? Unfiltered, raw, and wanting to know even how your breath smells. Don’t forget the breath mints!

3.    Invest in Febreze—At the end of every semester of our middle school small groups we like to gather all the groups together, tell a few stories, and celebrate with dessert. This time was special. The eighth-grade boys made it to the front of the ice cream line where I was starting to throw out some high fives. As I went down the line it hit me… hard…like a smack in the face. What is that awful smell? It was like a mix of cafeteria dumpsters and my sneakers after a week at the lake. Low and behold it was a student’s feet. I pulled his small group leader aside and said, “Have you ever noticed how your boy always wears the same sandals and they smell like death?” He looked at me, smirked and said, “Yeah dude…Febreze every week.”  This is love for students! I love the fact that middle school students will come as they are, ready to hang with their favorite leader, reeking feet and all. I think I will do our leader a favor and let the student know if he ever wants to meet that special someone he may want to wash those puppies.

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It’s important to invest in students! Despite the stickiness, the unfiltered words, or even the terrible smells that middle school students bring to our senses weekly there is something great about these friends. They come as they are, ready to be with friends, leaders, and Jesus. This reminds me of Jesus’ teaching about childlike faith. A faith that is unfiltered, simple, and easily accepted. Hopefully today, you can take a second to remember some of the ridiculous situations you have found yourself in with Middle School students. Remember their names and how they have taught us to invest, not only in products, but in their lives so they can know and grow in Christ. They came as they were, ready to share their life with you, will you be there ready to share your life with them?

Do you have ridiculous Middle School student stories? Let’s post them below!

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