Monday, October 12, 2009

Loving Leaving Student Ministry

Last night I walked out of the house as a pastor to students. I returned home with nothing but a call and the gospel promises of the God who is there. While liberating, there is still bitter along with the sweet.

I will miss the joys of watching some go deep despite the designs of the naysayers who think we should only give crumbs to the “children.” There is a rare beauty in seeing the light-bulb come on in the lights of their eyes, when the gospel becomes precious beyond all treasures. Missed will be the conversations about real life and how real lives can be shaped by the gospel. I will miss watching repentance happen over and over. I will miss the joy in the eyes of a student that is there just because, well… just because. Most certainly I will miss challenging students legalism and license. I will miss their presence.

What will I not miss? I will not miss parents who want a sanctified babysitter. I will not miss the collected wisdom of students who are half my age explaining doctrine to me. I will mot miss the arrogance of some of those same students telling how deficient I am in my job. I will not miss the unreal expectations, the silliness and the endless need for ever more events.

In the past 6 months my admiration and mystification of Student Pastors has been maximized. I admire those who labor well for the souls of our teens. But I am completely mystified by those who do it for so long. I know it’s weird. I mean, I just quit doing it yesterday and now those who have done it for years – people who are just like me, bewilder me.

Sometimes you just get to a point where you never expected to be. I imagined I would be doing student ministry for many years. Really, I did. But when I returned home last night after my last poorly attended small group, the life of the student minister felt very foreign to me. Kind of like a country I once lived in and enjoyed for a time but have no inclination to return to. I suppose this is how God works in us so we keep our focus on the future. It is not so much, “been there, done that” as much as it is just now time to do something else.

And that’s why it is bittersweet and should be so. Bitter to say goodbye to all I have known for a number of years. But I am already enjoying the sweet taste of moving on…


Daniel Griswold said...

Youth Ministry can be a dangerous profession. I've committed to it for life, and I know I have to make sure to take care to myself constantly, because it can really drain a person. Do you have any advice for young people thinking of possibly entering the field of ym?

Harley A. said...

Matt -

Word of encouragement, brother...

Without a student minister like you, I doubt my children will even participate. And, that's nothing against the guy in place now at all - you know what kind of guy he is and I love the guy. I'm just not convinced student ministry within a church (at least what it's become today) is even categorically a valid idea. I really bump my head against it a lot and never get a "warm-fuzzy". I hesitate to speak out against it though, because of the dedication of the good men who do it (and I'm chicken). I am glad that the Lord has worked in your life to bring you where you are. Wichita was a training ground, a crucible, I have no doubt - not fruitless. And, amazing that I never had a clue how you were struggling - forgive me for that. We will pray for you and your wonderful family. I hope the Holidays are especially blessed.