The Underbelly of Youth Ministry

Let’s face it, there are a lot of youth leaders out there with kiddos. For nearly a decade I’ve watched youth workers at conventions chase toddlers through lobbies, push double strollers, feed babies, and walk out of sessions because the baby didn’t necessarily like the main stage speaker.

That wasn’t me for a long time. In fact, I wondered how someone could be that crazy to haul a little one to something so big and busy. That was until I found myself sitting in a “Lost and Found” performance with a one year old, after 10 PM. Yeah, it happened. I became a mommy in full time youth ministry. With husband in tow (actually, he does most of the towing) we travel around to schools, church, youth group, youth ministry events, trainings, and other places with child.

Our toddler is now nearing the age of three and we’re finally at the point where we are starting to see the light. Even though she still isn’t sleeping through the night, hardly eats, and never wants to take off her princess dress, we were starting to get the hang of things as they have changed—in life, in marriage, in parenting, in ministry—then we got pregnant again. (Cue the scary music.)

While we’re super happy about baby number two, it was sort of freaky thinking about how this changes things…again. We are at a point in our lives when things never seem to slow down. What I would give for those college days when we could sleep three hours in between classes, watch movies on the weekends, and eat cereal for dinner every night!

Youth ministry changes when you have children. It changes when you are eight months pregnant and can’t make it through a ten-minute youth sermon because you’re too winded to finish. Youth ministry changes when you start thinking about “your little girl” going to the lock-in someday. Your perspective starts to widen and you start making decisions with different things in mind.

I’m not saying that you become a better youth minister when you have children, because I was able to give differently in youth ministry before having children, ways that I often miss now (i.e. staying up all night telling scary stories in a tent during the fall retreat) However, I am saying that having children gives us new insight. Just like traveling to another culture where we learn new things and come back looking at life differently, it’s the same for youth ministers who become parents, we start seeing things through a different lens.

The childbearing years may seem like the most tiresome and unrelenting years of our lives because there are so many things to juggle. But I’m learning to love this season and the lessons it’s teaching me (and there are so many lessons!).

I’m loving the middle school kid who wanted to know last week “if I was really pregnant” (I’m due in two months). I’m loving the volunteers that support me when I’m needing help (there are just some things I can’t physically do right now). I’m loving the students who continue to prefer deep relationships over a cool youth pastor who can take a whipping from a paint ball gun (For the record, I have never been able to do that, prego or not). I’m loving my husband that walks beside me when I lose my mind for no apparent reason (Happening more often that I would like). I’m loving that I get to do exactly what I want to do with my life, and be a mom—full-time. Not many people get this sort of gift and for that I’m seriously grateful.

I’m sure there are many who share these feelings, people grateful to serve both their families and the church at the same time, may we consider how blessed we truly are.

Labels: , ,