God and I made a deal.
And by that I mean He told me to do something and I fought it until I finally agreed.
The first post on The Backstage Project site was in early 2010. But the idea for it was birthed long before then. All throughout my life, I have had a passion for the written word. I have always liked to read, but I loved to write a whole lot more.
There is something so liberatingly creative about the entire process. To take a blank piece of paper and create something out of nothing. No, I don’t follow all the rules of writing and I know it. If my 12th grade English teacher ever got wind of this blog, I’d be in for a long lecture about ending sentences with prepositions and beginning sentences with “and”. I am definitely not AP Style approved.
So when I knew that it was God’s will (and my passion) to write this blog, I began to think about all the fun stuff I could post. Hilarious stories about my students. Fun tips for how to host events. How to bring the shy kids out of their shell. How to teach 13 year old boys about hygiene on Church Bus trips.
But God had a different plan in mind. Yes, we would eventually write all of that stuff, but He began to speak with me specifically about a topic that is still relevant today.
I couldn’t escape it. I closed my eyes and my mind raced back to the same thing. I saw it everywhere I looked.
So it became the mantra of sorts for this blog. A question to drill down the focus of what we do here.
A question every Youth Worker needs to constantly wrestle with…
Is this your PASSION or just your POSITION?
Do you really care about what you are doing or is just to get you to your “next step” in ministry? Do you have a genuine passion to see lives changed or is just something you’re doing on your way to being “promoted” to Pastor?”
There is an epidemic of sorts in our movement. It has changed in recent years, but is still very disconcerting. If a young person feels called to ministry in any capacity, they are often placed in charge of a Student Ministry to “get their feet wet”.
Now, I understand that people have ambition and there is vital training that can be gleaned from leading a Student Ministry. I understand that some of the greatest leaders in our organization began their journey in Student Ministry. I’m reminded daily that without those years in Student Ministry, I would be ill prepared for the role of Administrative Pastor in which I currently serve.
But it’s more about mentality.
How can we expect to lead successfully NOW when we’re too concerned about what is NEXT?
I’ll be honest with you. Some of the worst Student Pastors and Youth Leaders I have ever come across were those that viewed Student Ministry as a “stepping stone”.
Students are perceptive. They are masters at recognizing fake and seeing through facades. The can see through the bull. The students of those Youth Leaders were completely disconnected. They knew they were just another station stop on the journey of that leader.
And thus, the effectiveness of that Student Ministry was completely diminished.
If you’re looking the glamour and prestige of being a Student Pastor, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. If you’re in it for the accolades and the “atta boys”, I hate to burst your proverbial bubble.
Student Ministry, in its purest form, is anything but glamorous. It is anything but prestigious.
It’s cleaning the cheetos out of the floor of the church van at 3 AM after an out of town youth event.
It’s sitting in the church lobby waiting for that parent to come pick up their kid, even though you made it painstakingly clear what time you’d return.
It’s preaching until you’re blue in the face about a topic, only to have that student still fall victim to it.
It’s dealing with hormonal teenagers (and their parents), cliques and teenage boys, all the while taking your vacation days to chaperone them at Youth Camp.
Is is glamorous?
Not in the least.
But is it worth it?
Absolutely….As long as it is your passion and not just your position.
When that student takes a step towards God. When that parent thanks you for the turnaround they’ve seen in their child’s life. When that guy or girl completely loses themselves in worship. When they step out of their comfort zone and begin to teach their friends a Bible Study.
That’s what makes all the pain of Student Ministry worth it. What makes every ounce of energy worth it. What makes dollar of your own money that you spend make sense.
Without Passion, you’ll never feel truly fulfilled in Student Ministry.
So is it your PASSION or just your POSITION?