I suffered with it. I’ll admit it. Most youth workers do…or at least most that I know. Not real sure how I got it though. I think it’s just part of our society. The “bigger is better” mentality. I was only 5 years into youth ministry and I had already bought into the notion that my “goal” was to grow the biggest, flashiest youth ministry in town. Surely that’s what God wanted. Right? That’s the only way I can know that I’ve been successful. Right? I didn’t realize how off track that I was. God had to get my attention.
After losing my comfy job as an engineer, our family faced the prospect of leaving town and a group of teenagers we knew God had sent us to. So I took a temporary job with a local newspaper. I didn’t know it but God was about to teach me a lesion that would change my view of ministry forever. I’ll never forget that moment. There I was….a college graduate driving around in the middle of the night delivering newspapers. “What am I doing here?” I thought. Despite my best efforts, my youth group had dwindled to about five students. Questions about my call to ministry consumed my thoughts. “God…what’s going on? Why is this happening?” A moment later, I saw it. As I turned the corner the sign at a small roadside church caught my attention. It simply read “Be Faithful. Leave the Results to God”. I knew that God had just spoken to me! All of the worrying about how many kids were in my group and whether or not I had the flashiest ministry just melted away.
I’m entering my 13th year of youth ministry now and I’ve taken those words to heart. I still don’t have a “huge” youth group or the coolest ministry in town but what I do have is patience. The patience to wait on God to mold the life of a teenager. The patience to slow down and just experience life with the kids God has given me. The reward? My wife and I have been “spiritual parents” to a small group of students. We’ve poured our lives into them and we’ve watched God do miracle after miracle in their lives. Are they perfect? No! Is perfection the goal? Absolutely Not! A few of them will graduate next year. Some are heading into full time ministry while others will go into the work force or college. No matter were they go we know that we’ve done all we could do and the results will be up to God.
So what about you? Are you suffering from “bigger is better” sickness? You don’t have to! Accept the fact that God didn’t call you to save every teen that comes through your door. Deal with the reality that the other youth ministry across town will always be much cooler than yours. Swallow your pride and get down to the business of building real disciples! Commit to the years of laughter, tears, mistakes, victories and just doing life together! Commit to faithfulness and to patience. The reward is unbelievable!