Dear youth pastor of my son who’s getting ready to graduate high school:
Forgive me for being so preoccupied right now, as the last weeks of high school are finally here, and I can’t believe it’s almost over. I’ve been meaning to reach out and express my gratitude, but I’ve been so busy that I keep forgetting to say thank you for everything you’ve done for my son. So here’s my honest thank-you letter to let you know how much what you do matters to me and my son.
I realize there are a lot of things that have been left unsaid over the years, and in case I don’t get the chance to say these things in person, I wanted to write you a letter expressing what’s been on my heart:
Forgive me for the panicked phone call in the middle of the night back when my son was in the 8th grade. As you probably remember, he’d been crying himself to sleep for a week. I was so overwhelmed with concern that I couldn’t stand it for another minute, so I called you. Even though my phone call woke you up (and your wife and newborn baby) you calmly took the time to assess the situation and talk me off the ledge. And the next day, you took my son to breakfast and talked him off the ledge.
Forgive me for the time I got really upset after you took the kids paint-balling on the way home from the summer mission trip. I guess the giant welts and bruising on his torso threw my protective mama-bear instincts into overdrive and I complained.
I might have forgotten to say thank you then, but he’s never forgotten that trip. And I’ve never forgotten how grateful I am that you ignited in him a genuine heart for service.
Forgive me for the times I was late picking him up from youth group and blamed you for the lack of communication. In the midst of my crazy-busy life juggling work and motherhood, I was the one to blame.
I might have forgotten to say thank you then, but he’s never forgotten those nights. And I’ve never forgotten how grateful I am for how you spent time away from your kids each week to be with mine.
For all of the unspoken “thank you’s” you deserve to hear, forgive me. And please hear me now as I add a few more:
- You believed in my son when he didn’t believe in himself. Thank you.
- You helped him see that his true identity was in Christ, not in making the baseball team. Thank you.
- You didn’t tolerate his excuses and lovingly called him up to be a young man of God. Thank you.
- You introduced him to Jesus in a way that compelled his life to follow Him. Thank you.
- You didn’t just give him a Bible, you invited him into the narrative and instilled in him a love for God’s word. Thank you.
- You gave him opportunities to lead and serve in your ministry that has inspired his desire to be a youth pastor like you. I couldn’t be more proud. Thank you.
For the hundreds of other unseen moments with hundreds of other kids, there are still so many thank you’s that will be left unsaid. You’ll probably never hear the true extent of how much you’ve made a difference and changed lives.
But that doesn’t make the reality of your impact any less real, nor the gratitude of parents and students any less true.
As this season of students graduate and move on from your ministry, my prayer is that your heart will know what your ears might never hear. On behalf of the students (and parents) whose lives you’ve touched:
Well done, good and faithful servant.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
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