When youth workers talk about “calling” it usually brings them back to a time when they were awakened to the moment when they realized God shaped them specifically for youth ministry.
Youth pastors come in all shapes and sizes—just look at us: Josh is fat and Kurt is good-looking—and each has a unique story when God showed them this was what he was all about for them. Today we get to share our story of being called into youth ministry.
My story has three chapters.
Chapter One: I was a television production major at a Christian university and decided that I would take a semester off, go on a missions trip to England, and not return unless I had clarity about God’s direction for my life. During that trip, I felt a very specific nudge by the Lord to go into youth ministry. I returned to college and immediately changed my course of study.
Chapter Two: One day, while walking across campus, a professor I knew well challenged me to spend my summer leading a 10-week “day camp” for junior high students. I took him up on his offer and spent the entire summer after my junior year driving an old church bus full of crazy junior highers around LA county.
Chapter Three: At the end of the summer my senior pastor asked me if, instead of returning to campus to be an R.A., I would consider becoming the part-time junior high pastor while commuting to school. I jumped at the chance, and I’ve never looked back! Okay, I’ve looked back a few times, but just for a minute or two.
I was about to graduate college and was meeting with one of my mentors, Jerry Dorman, about future plans. He told me he couldn’t believe I was going into business and thought I was “made to be a youth pastor.” He challenged me to pray about it and we continued the conversation without revisiting it. But over the next few weeks I revisited it again and again, and over time, discussion with my new wife, and prayer, it made so much sense to me. How had I missed it?! I was hired as a youth pastor at my first church and started a month later. In 20 years of ministry I’ve only served at two churches—that one and Saddleback! It’s crazy how one little conversation triggered a whole direction for my life. I’ve made the commitment now to do the same with other potentially great students I see: Ask them in faith if they have ever considered youth ministry, too. Changed my life forever!
How about you! When did you feel God calling you to youth ministry?