As we enter the season of Halloween, we deal with some scary things. They are meant to keep us up late at night, imagining the worse, regretting what is often not even in our control.
Some of us live in Holloween-ish fears about our vocation to serve the church and her young people. Here is a proposed list of our fears as youth ministers. Let’s shine some light into our own dark nights of the soul.
I AM TOO OLD. Doesn’t matter if you are 23 or 53, there are going to be moments when you feel out of touch. The Bye, Bye Birdie complaint about Kids sings “Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way? What’s the matter with kids today?”
Our fear arises when we confront the truth that we are NOT their age. We do not have to speak like them, dress like them, enjoy their music, play their games. Most importantly, we do not have to be their friends and should not even need to be. Age no longer matters once we mature into that truth.
I AM NOT WORTHY. There are so many holier folks than I. I busy myself emulating the activities of the holy and try to keep up. Or…. What am I doing here? I am such a sinner, a slacker, a mess. Self-loathing only perpetuates my fear of unworthiness.
Our fear arises when we forget. We forget the life stories of the disciples- tax collectors, fishermen, deniers, zealots. We forget the life stories of saints, running naked down the streets, filled and nearly disabled by their own doubt. We forget that we are created in the image and likeness of the Creator. We forget our Original Goodness and fail to recognize the mercy freely given to us for our rather unoriginal sins,
THIS IS NOT SUSTAINABLE. Ministry can overwhelm. As a people who work with the future of our church and our culture, we find challenges in our own ability to see a positive future for ourselves sometimes. Low salaries strain personal budgets and living standards. Poor time management impact developing adult relationships (with other outside our core groups) or draw us away from our primary responsibilities as spouses and parents. A steady diet of late nights and pizza impact our health in negative ways.
Our fear arises when we do not use the gifts and talents we have for ministry to benefit our own lives. We might be able to plan, schedule, and budget for the big event at church but fail to do so for the family vacation or for retirement. We need to network for ourselves as well as we do on the behalf of young people. We do not treat or reserve empty space on our calendars and opportunities to our own growth and health.
Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.