The Wonderful, Awful Tension Of Youth Ministry
Do you ever feel the tension of what you do as a youth worker?
I feel tension when I consider the spiritual growth of my students. It’s the tension between the sense of urgency and the knowledge that discipleship is a long, slow, meandering process. I want them to know it ALL right. this. instant. But I know that’s not how faith works. We watch them take two steps forward, one step back and because we love our students we get frustrated. But I know better. I feel tension because while I want them to be living a deep faith now, I know that God is working in them daily, and that He won’t be done with them until they join Him in eternity.
I feel tension when I realistically consider the impact I have on my students. I know the importance of meaningful, non-parent adults in the lives of teenagers. Studies show that these relationships anchor teenagers to their faith. I am that adult to a group of teenagers. So are you. But I also know that I don’t have near the influence that I want. I see them for an hour or so a week if I am lucky. (Text messages are great, but they only supplement the real relationship that happens when I’m hanging out with students.) I feel such tension here. I want to have a greater impact, but my impact is limited in a sense.
I feel tension at times when I load up my family for the third or fourth time in a week to go to church. I love my church. I love our church family. I love the ministry my wife and I do with the teenagers and adults there. But I feel tension. There are some Sunday’s where I would love to not have the responsibilities that I have. Even though I know that what we are doing is what God has called us to do. There is tension.
I feel tension when I lead students to know Christ more deeply through His word. I feel the tension of knowing that many of the things I teach I still struggle with myself. I feel the tension of wanting to make God known so clearly but knowing that I am so human and I that I mess it up as often as not.
It is a beautiful, frustrating, wonderful, awful feeling.
You know why? Because the tension we feel is brought about by actually giving ourselves to the mission of God. It’s the tension of people who aren’t on the sidelines. It’s the tension of people giving it their all, falling flat on their faces, and getting up to try it one more time.
As much as it can be a struggle at times, I’ll take it.
Where do you experience tension in your ministry life?