It’s a moment that challenges us all. Whether you’re new to youth ministry or a veteran. It’s the moment you begin a new ministry. We’ve heard it said, preached and taught that the relationships we build with our students is more important than the programs we develop. Yet, sometimes we can get lost in the day-to-day aspects of our “jobs”. Amidst the desire to just hang out with our students is the pressure to be organized, planning the next event or putting those all-important receipts together for the bookkeeper. Yet, at some point we all come to a place where a moment defines us. It’s a moment where the decision leaves an indelible impact on our future. Those “new beginnings” many times are precursors to wonderful experiences of impacting relationships. We must recognize that our purpose is more than ego inflating numbers or exaggerated budgets, but opportunities to pour our hearts into disciplining students. Programs are great, “things” are fantastic but what value is our ministry if we lack true relationships with our students. It isn’t the size of your ministry it’s the size of your impact that determines your success. Resist the temptation to determine your success by the number of students that grace your presence each week. Be excited about the students you and your leadership team is making a concerted effort to pour your lives into. Celebrate those moments where you and a student are eye to eye having one of those “talks”. Those moments are defining times where that student gets a chance to really see into your soul, and find out if you really are who you say you are. I have found in those moments the greatest opportunity to express love, concern, sympathy and hope into their lives.
A student once taught me the greatest lesson I ever learned as a youth pastor. It was one of those moments were I told her that I loved her, and then she dropped the bomb saying “no you don’t, because I don’t see it in your eyes . . . love me with your eyes.” A student’s whole world will open up before you if they hear the love and see the love in your eyes. It is right there that real ministry takes place. Divine moments were they see the connection between them and Christ through you. The problem is we miss them more than we like to admit, Yet, if we remember that every student we minister to is important that those moments we have with them are gifts from God. I believe we will be more alert to making them life changing. If we become individuals who are determined to seek out those life-changing moments, and seize them when they make themselves available we will maximize our chance to speak into their lives. We must train ourselves to be sensitive to those moments. Remember God has armed you with a wonderful gift, the heart, and the passion to make a difference, so don’t be afraid to use it. Your students are looking for a relationship, they crave it, don’t be afraid to invest. Sure their are going to be moments of pain. Moments were a student will turn on you, ignoring the time and energy you have put into them, and you will be hurt, push past it and don’t give up. They are still watching, waiting, wanting to see you reach past those moments to touch their lives.