Why Youth Pastors ROCK [& are my heroes]

I love being married to a man who loves Jesus. As a result of this love for Jesus he loves human beings, because well its what we do and who we are. He has the honor of serving as a pastor of sorts here in Corvallis, and one of the areas he focuses his heart on: YOUTH. STUDENTS. Middle & High School kids. Only the best of humans going through some of the toughest of times. Sometimes we are told how amazing we are because we "spend all that time with such horrific-aged, immature humans." What I say to that is, "You are missing out, if that is truly how you view them. We are the lucky ones to spend time with them." Some of these kids have wisdom many adults don't. Some of these kids sacrifice more for the Kingdom than some 22 0r 50 year olds. {If you want some real stories, email me and I'll gladly fill you in!} These kids teach me something new every single Tuesday evening at Youth Group. To view them as horrible, to write them off as completely and only immature, and to treat them poorly, is to do yourself [and them] a disservice. These kids are amazing.

These kids were created in the image of the Creator.

These kids are this generation, and the next.

Just saying, folks, I love these kids. I know a lot of you do too.

Claire

Corvallis Church Youth Group  #ccengage

Corvallis Church Youth Group  #ccengage

Though these kids truly bring me closer to Jesus, they are still teenage humans learning simple etiquettes. {So are some people my age, for that matter}. I mean things like, keeping their lips glued together while someone else talks.

As a ministry wife and a leader myself, I am here to write a letter to all of you Youth Pastors {because I am partial to you} who are serving these students selflessly, as a response to a calling. Serving them because there is not much in it for you. Except of course, deep satisfaction & joy in giving yourself up.

Youth Pastors, here are 10 reasons you are my heroes:

1. Contrary to popular belief, you have immense self-control. At first glance, flailing your arms and letting out loud noises, you seem to be very much lacking in the self-control department. However, after observing for years, I have come to realize how incredibly self-controlled you are -  example: you have students constantly throwing things at you even though you politely and ever so gently asked them not to. I have seen your self-control in withholding an outrage when asking a student for the gazillionth time to not talk during the short 10-15 minutes of your lesson. The lesson you prepared for all day long, praying through, and spending your heart's love preparing. You know, that lesson that seems to go in one ear and out the other? It doesn't. That lesson or message or whatever you call it - I applaud you for standing up there, week after week, bearing your soul when it feels as though no one is caring for it. You put your heart out there and are interrupted time and time again, and you never hit anyone. You don't storm out yelling. You politely wait for them to quiet themselves. You are so self-controlled. I stand in applause, truly.

Well done.

2. You are some of the most confident human beings I know. Not confident in an arrogant way; nope. In fact, you are anything but arrogant because you know that you could not possibly do this job on your own strength. You are some of the most humble humans I have ever met. You are confident in the calling Jesus has placed on your heart and you are confident in the message He has laid upon you to share. I know this because, remember up above when we talked through the interruption stage of every youth group evening? Or the evenings when the kids are so sun-beat that they are snoring through the entire thing?  If you weren't confident in who you are in Christ, you would melt of despair every time you were interrupted or your audience seemed to be dying from boredom. You would stand there with a shaky and nervous voice, ready to crack at any moment. You might even, and probably do, cry yourself to sleep. But instead, you move on in your message. You nod and you move on with confidence, knowing that Christ has your back and He loves those kids and so do you. It's all going to work out and He will settle whatever needs to be settled within their hearts.

You inspire me.

Corvallis Church Youth Group  #ccengage

3. You are selfless. Man do you give of yourself. You give so much time praying for the kids that show up to youth group every week - but you also spend time praying for the kids who only showed up once, and the kids who stopped coming once they entered high school. You pray and you pray and you spend more time praying for them, because that is the best thing you can do for them. Friend, those prayers are not in vain. You spend so much time preparing that lesson (there's that lesson again) to share more of Jesus' heart for them; you think and pray through the best possible deliverance methods and great analogies and stories. You deny evenings with your friends and/or family to take kids to Fro-Yo, on a bike ride, or scale up a mountain. {This is not to say you neglect your family; I am simply saying you spend numbers of evenings with kids. Whatever is healthy for you. A whole different blog post, because let's be honest: you tend to stretch yourself too thin, bearing the weight of every student}. You're selfless with your time because you know that spending any time with any one kid is investing in forever. You know that it is worth it, even if all you do is hike up a hill silently praying. Because, it is worth it when they know they are worth someones time.

You move me.

4. Did you say night out with the friends? What friends?. Some days you wake up and you wonder what it would be like if you had friends. You miss the old college days where all you did was study and eat frozen corn dogs and wrestle your roommates to the ground. The days you stayed up until 3 am playing video games or going to Taco Bell or sitting at Shari's with a bunch of friends. Some days you feel like friendship was a facade and you get confused with what is ministry and what isn't. Some days you aren't sure you have the capacity to even be a friend. I am not saying this is healthy - I am making an observation. Some times life is lonely. But do you know what I am learning? Every one tends to be lonely. I also am learning that you have permission to have friends. Not just a be a friend, but have one or two of them. Real friends - the ones you are completely vulnerable with, even though you feel ugly at your most transparent state. Let's be honest - we are all ugly at some point because we aren't in Heaven yet. Remind yourself to release the pressure of perfection and allow yourself a friend. A true and valuable friend will love you through it and help you process it all, pointing you to His Truths. You can be that friend to your friend. You need a friend, even if that friend lives far away from you. Skype and Facetime were created for a reason.

Dont just be a friend, have a friend.

5. You are not in this for the money. I feel like that statement speaks volumes in itself.

You encourage me to live for eternity more than temporary.

Flowers outside of the building
Flowers outside of the building

6.Your love runs deep. Contrary to what it may appear, your love runs deep and it is strong. It is that of the Father's. You seem all goofy and comedic, which you are those things, but you are also a deeply moved human being. You also feel all of the feelings, you cry tears of joy and of pain, of thanksgiving and of mourning. Your prayers for those precious lives dig deep wells into your very own soul. You invest your very own life into them, creating this massive weight of Love within yourself. It is only by God's grace that you are able to do this, and it happens without you realizing it is happening. But, once they decide to stop coming or tell you their hurting stories, you realize the depth of your love for them; your very own eyes well with tears and your heart feels their pain. Your compassion is basically tangible and it is more beautiful than a sunrise, and like I said: it is from the heart of the Father.

You are beautiful.

7. You are so patient. Too often, it may be an hour [or maybe two?] before a parent finally calls to let you know they forgot their kid and need you to take their kid across town. Instead of blowing a fuse and telling them off, because you need sleep & food and may have a family too, you kindly take their kid home. You do this without complaining or making the student feel like a burden, because it isn't their fault. And honestly, you love the kid and don't need to put that weight on him/her. The poor kid has enough going on if the parent can't remember where he is. You are beyond patient and practice grace in ways I cannot explain. You give grace when the world would tell you not to - and that is why you amaze me.

You are so full of and flowing over Jesus.

8. You get excited over everything; even if its nothing. Because there is no such thing as "nothing." Everything is something to get excited over - like pet mini-pigs, new guitar amps, and winning football games. Like new nail polish and a new pair of shoes, a brand new bike, and even a kid choosing to take his brother to the Aquatic Center. Inviting some one to play video games for the first time is a big deal and boy are we ready to applaud and celebrate this huge new step. You are excited and everything that falls out of their mouths is exciting and you celebrate with them. Even if what you're celebrating is nothing in line of what you have ever thought to enjoy, but because of them, this thing is now the coolest thing.

You give me hope.

Corvallis Church Youth Group  #ccengage

9. You are grieved over things; especially when it's real. Yes, you are bummed when they didn't win the Talent Show or their basketball game. You remind them they are worth more. But you are also given weights that are not so easy to hand back to Jesus, weights that make your heart feel in ways you didn't know possible - like when a student comes to you weeping that their fairy-tale family is splitting up. Or when your students are picked on for being followers of Jesus. Or when they tell a story of deep abuse. Or when their friends are suicidal and they are coming to you for prayer and advice. Or when they mess up sexually and carry unnecessary shame. You feel their pain and you are the one they often come to when they need to navigate through tough situations. You are often the one they come to when their world seems to be falling apart and they are facing the feeling of "failture."

You are heroic.

10. You are priceless. Though you get paid enough to just barely make it, you are priceless. Odd how this world works. You are my heroes, Youth Pastors. I pray for the few of you that I know, I pray that you would be reminded once again how valuable you are. It's not because you're a Youth Pastor, but simply because you're the beloved child of God. We're all a bunch of messed up mis-fits that don't fit the criteria; except the fact that we are willing. Did you forget the good news? The good news is that He has invited you into His freedom and you can walk in His light-hearted joy, wearing peace on your feet. He is King - I wasn't sure if you needed that reminder. Sometimes I do. You change lives. Whether it is the students, their siblings, their friends, or even their extended families...you are changing lives. You know who else is affected? Those watching you: your parents, your siblings, your elders, and your coworkers (if you are bi-vocational like us!). Did you know that I have passed along many truths given to me by a few of my own youth pastors? Truths I learned in 6th grade - thank you, Alan. You reach far, Youth Pastors - your work is not in vain, it spreads through generations. We have had many people let us know the way we have changed their life, as we serve students. To me, it is a humbling surprise and blesses me every time. But it is proof that your ministry stretches further than you would ever plan or expect or comprehend. It is a reminder that you are changing more lives than the number before your eyes.

We haven't even mentioned the creativity this position demands. I mean snacks, games, lessons, analogies, "keeping it real." I would crumble under the pressure of creating fun and exciting and new games every week.

Not only do you have all of these kids on your heart, but your Youth Leaders. You are there to lead and serve them as well. That's a whole other post, friends. But just know, God knows. He notices the time and energy and prayers that go into your work. He holds your heart and He will carry these burdens.

To Youth Pastors all around: the work you do is hard work. It is heavy and it is emotional. It is light and it is joyful. It is so many things at such extremes.

It is all for Jesus.

And I am here to applaud you to keep running the race. To keep pursuing Jesus every day. You are changing many lives. You are glorifying Jesus Christ and bringing His Kingdom to this earth with the very breath in your lungs.

You are worth His blood, you are valuable, and you are holy. Not because you rock as a Youth Pastor or anything else. Simply because you have chosen the road that is narrow and few.

"Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do and it gave Him great pleasure."

You may not be a Youth Pastor - maybe a Leader who just as selflessly chooses to serve these same kids. You may be the Pastor's wife whose heart is just as much "in," and you may spend just as much time and energy and sacrifice, digging wells within your heart just as deep. Whatever you "do" for the Kingdom, you are changing lives. You are loved, you are value, you are worth the blood of Christ only because the Father said so. You are all of those things before you were born, so nothing you have done or haven't done will earn your way into His delight. You have already been brought to that place by His grace.

Brother. Sister. You amaze me. You are my hero.

Well done. Keep running this race, by His grace.

Corvallis Church Youth Group  #ccengage

Corvallis Church Youth Group  #ccengage Corvallis Church Youth Group  #ccengage

Corvallis Church Youth Group  #ccengage

Corvallis Church Youth Group  #ccengage

IMG_7558

Corvallis Church Youth Group  #ccengage

Corvallis Church Youth Group  #ccengage

Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

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