I was blessed to have a phenomenal youth pastor who challenged us every week to be a full-time follower of Christ not a part time follower. He was extremely relational, and I have soon realized that a lot of my ministry is shaped based on the impartation of how he ministered. He was a phenomenal speaker, but quite frankly I can’t recall a single sermon he spoke for the 2 years he was my youth pastor. I do recall the numerous hangs, events, talks and even laughs we would have. I can honestly say that my group is no different. I don’t know that my students remember a single sermon I’ve preached, but they always talk about the hangs, the visits on their campuses, support at their events and other things other than me on a platform on my Youth Night.
This made me ask myself this question, what will my students remember after High School? As Youth Pastors we spend so much time and energy in preparing for the event of Youth Night and may times neglecting the opportunities of Youth Night. Now I’m not saying that we disregard planning all together, but I think we can be more intentional of the opportunities that we are missing out on because we are so focused on a production and not the building of relationship. Afterall, we are spending so much time and effort on what they may not ever remember, while missing on opportunities that can shape their faith.
Here are 3 things students will remember and this is how we can effectively implement them in our ministry….
Time is one of our most valuable assets and yet it seems as though we never have enough it. Nevertheless, time is so valuable that when we give it to our students, they remember it. You may never get a thank you or feel appreciated by giving it, but there’s no denying that they are very aware of it. Many times in ministry you will be the individual who spends quality time with these students. That means that as you give of your time, you are in essence, giving life to students who are in need of a spiritual awakening. Never see your time invested as a waste, even if they keep making bad choices. We aren’t called to change people; we are called to love them despite of their choices. One of the greatest ways to show them that you’re about them is by the time you’re willing to spend with them. Carve out some time on your schedule to allot to the students you want to invest in.
We can say we are passionate about young people, but I believe that our words aren’t enough, our actions should be validating our passion. If we love students and student ministries, then we should be passionate about seeing our students go to the next level. Our passion shouldn’t just be about them filling the seats on our Youth nights, but more so how they build and develop their walk with Jesus. We can be passionate speakers, but lack passion for the state of the souls of those that we are speaking to. Passion is checking up on our people, after all, we are called to shepherd them, which means we are to take care them passionately. Our passion for students has to transcend the platform and go into their everyday lives. Students will remember not just the time, but how intense you were about spending it with them as well.
You may already know this, but if you don’t, here it is. Your presence matters. As Youth Workers we are most often the only positive influence in the lives of our students. They are surrounded by uncertainty, chaos and dysfunction. We in a way bring a sense of calm to their storm. That one student that is always calling or texting, and who you see as annoying, is crying out for positivity in their life. Yes, it’s overwhelming, but at the same time you’re making a lasting impact in their life. Your consistent presence in the life of a student has the ability to change their outlook on what they think is their normal. You showing up to their events changes their outlook on what family is. You visiting them at work changes their outlook on what caring looks like. Your presence in their life is vital to the paradigm shift that needs to take place within their life.
What will they remember? Students will remember your time, passion and presence. They may never recall a sermon, but they will in fact remember the incarnate version of Christ through your investment in their life. Keep on plowing the field and whether you get a thank you or you don’t, know that you’re making a lasting impact in the lives of students.
Praying for you and your ministry!