I remember hearing a pastor once talk about his “calling to ministry” — my first thought was how mystical it all sounded; that God would pick out some normal person and make them super special for ministry. Would God’s calling be accompanied by bright light, an audible voice, smoke and lasers? I always wondered what God’s voice must have sounded like (probably like Morgan Freeman’s), and how it must have felt to be hand-picked by the Creator of the Universe for this special job.
And then I felt called, and it wasn’t anything like I thought it might be. It wasn’t super magical, but it was life-changing. Here’s a little from each of us on our calling to youth ministry:
JOSH: My first inclination that God was calling me to youth ministry was through a significant mentor in my life. I was about to graduate my senior year of college and Jerry Dorman told me he was about to leave his current position and become a pastor. He asked me to consider becoming his youth pastor. I couldn’t believe what he was asking (I was newly married and about to graduate with a business degree) but said I would pray about it. Little did I know that this nudge from a caring adult in my life would lead to a lifelong pursuit and calling from God to minister to students.
KURT:Like Josh, the first time I truly felt “called” to youth ministry was through a significant mentor, and it was a fairly powerful moment. I had taken a semester off from college to go on an extended mission trip to England. My prayer before leaving was, “God, I don’t want to return to school until I know exactly why I’m there.” I hadn’t told anybody about that prayer, but one night on the trip while the team was huddled together under Big Ben praying for those we had ministered to throughout the day, my youth pastor pulled me aside and said that he believed I was gifted for ministry and should consider changing my course of study when I returned to school. No lasers, no Morgan Freeman voice, but pretty epic nonetheless.
Do you remember your calling? Maybe you were raising your hand to ask a question and someone thought that you were volunteering to work with junior highers. Maybe you accidentally made eye-contact with your senior pastor at exactly the wrong time and you ended up running youth group for the next year. Or maybe you had a very provocative Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus meeting where God shined a blinding spotlight directly at you. Maybe you stumbled into youth ministry and have felt God’s calling over the months of serving and seeing lives changed and hearts being drawn to Him (side note: We have learned over the years that this type of calling is the most common).
At the end of the day, you are called. You are chosen. You are one of the few … the proud … the youth ministry nation. We share in that calling and are honored to encourage you, equip you, and hopefully inspire you to keep on serving students today, and tomorrow….and the next day. In fact, that’s why we are so excited about the opportunity to write this little column a few times a week!
So think about your calling this afternoon. Thank God for it and reflect on what He wants to do with and through you. We’ll be back tomorrow with a few reminders of why that’s so important.
This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.