A few weeks ago I reorganized my schedule to spend more time with leaders and more time with students. It may seem like a no-brainer for a youth minister but it really is amazing how quickly time can slip by doing other important things that have inched up on the priority ladder.
It is why I am here.
To invest in them.
And I forget sometimes.
And it's normal.
But it's not okay to stay there.
The occasional restructure is in order.
Maybe you need one too?
If you think you don't have the 5 extra hours needed to sit face to face with the people you're called to lead and invest in, then try reading this blog I read today about how to find the time. Thanks Aaron for offering such a fantastic post. We all need these types of clarion calls.
There was also a great email sent out from Kurt/ Josh in the Simply Today news on how to maximize your office time (if you work in an office). There seemed to be a theme today in the youth ministry nation so maybe it's a good thing to pause and consider how it's going?
I've loved being with teenagers in their environments at school over the past few weeks. One on one, hearing things that remind me where they were and what they were doing before coming in to listen to a 20 minute message on Wednesday nights or what I'm really asking when I request that they consider not eating for 30 hours.
Today, as I met with the sweetest most polite young lady imaginable, she asked me as we walked to the lunch table,
"Why do you want to spend all of your money on us?"
I'm glad I got to answer her because it was a great reminder for me to say it out loud.
I want to spend time with you whenever I can because sometimes at church I don't get to have a personal conversation and it matters to me how you are doing. It's worth some lunch money. You are worth some lunch money.
Later on she told me how she decorated her room in a wolf theme.
And how she got an ice cream sandwich for Christmas.
She paused just long enough to let me squirm in the "I have no idea what you're talking about youth pastor stare" and then half-smiled and let me know that it's an android tablet.
She wanted to know so much about me. She wanted to know my hobby. She asked me what I liked most about church. I wasn't sure? Church when I'm at work or church when I'm at church? Then I wondered if there should be a difference.....she really got me thinking! She wanted to know what I like and don't like and then I realized this girl was amazing! Who takes so much interest in another human being like that?
I love how they're in the moment and how they listen.
I love how they can jump from one topic to the next.
I love how forgiving they are.
I love being with them.
It reminds me of Justin, the weekend after Christmas when he told me what his favorite gift was.
"I liked opening my remote control helicopter because now I can spy on my dog...which by the way now we know why she is getting so fat, because I caught her eating all of the cat food...are we going to have donuts?"
Random. And awesome.
It reminds me of Sydney, who last week she gently brought her hurting friend to me.
"She needs someone to talk to, can you help her?"
Compassionate. And awesome.
Teenagers will be teenagers and not everyone wants to journey into adolescence after they've survived it. But some will and some do and I'm glad I get to be one who experience the joys of it.
So many, deep down in their hearts, face difficult things. Or thoughts that they don't quite know how to work out yet. And we have a divine appointment. An opportunity to be a trusted advisor. A spiritual mentor. A friend who can bring a happy meal to school and talk about wolves and ice cream sandwiches .
Sometimes I have to pinch myself.
This is my job? The calling of my life?
To know and be known?
What a gift. We can never take it for granted.
And even in those times in ministry when we cast our our nets into areas that seem barren or lifeless, and we're on the brink of giving up, Jesus himself says "go on...throw them out there...I can fill those same nets with more than you can fathom. (Luke 5:1-11)