My sons Sean and Jacob were chosen to proclaim the readings at the Christmas Eve Mass at our home parish of St. Paul’s last week. Both of them prepared very diligently – and it was indeed an honour that our pastor asked the two brothers to read at such an important celebration.
We arrived 40 minutes early so the boys could practice everything from their approach to how they would stand behind the microphone. Once Mass started, Jake was first up. For some reason – despite knowing that he was to read from the right side of the book – he proceeded to read from the left page. Thus, he was reading the wrong thing.
A few words in, Jake caught himself, took a deep breath, and simply said, “I’m sorry” before embarking on the correct reading. He completed the reading from Isaiah perfectly, unnerved by the 400-plus people in attendance. As he returned to his seat, I leaned over and whispered to him, “Good job, son.”
Needless to say, I was very proud of him. Not only that he proclaimed God’s word so well, but that he showed remarkable composure…especially for a 10 year-old.
It got me thinking of the many times we lose – or come close to losing – our composure in youth ministry. It might be because of the unruly teen who always seems to get on our nerves. Or maybe a skit or talk that we’ve practiced over and over becomes unglued at the worst time right before our eyes. Or when a senior member of the church interrupts our gathering claiming that “they” had the room booked – even though we know they are wrong.
And my personal favourite: when youth ministry is blamed any time something goes wrong, goes missing, gets messed up, or gets broken.
It’s in adversity that our true character is exposed. If we are in a right place with God and in our relationship with Jesus, we will be better prepared to handle situations in which things go wrong. We need to have confidence that nothing impossible with God. That if He leads us to it, He will lead us through it.
There’s a reason why Philippians 4:13 is my favourite scripture: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
So the next time that the LCD projector conks out on you during your youth night, crack a smile. When the unflappable teen gives you a hard time, be thankful that she’s there and that she’s open to learning something. And when your pastor gives you a hard time about numbers, remind him it’s about quality and not quantity – that it’s about souls and not attendance.
Through it all, make sure you keep your composure.
Just like my 10 year-old son Jacob.