Hide In God

Youth Specialties
August 31st, 2016

After 30 years in youth ministry, I’ve come to recognize an unfortunate trait shared by many youth pastors: they’ve perfected the art of hiding who they really are. I’ve seen pastors who hide their low self-confidence behind a mask of arrogance. I’ve seen countless youth pastors crash and burn because of hidden sin or shame. And I’ve seen self-doubting youth pastors hide behind self-glorifying social media profiles that are mostly just facades. We’re in a profession plagued with insecurity and fear. What secrets hide beneath your surface?

Too often, we define ourselves through comparison.

We inflate numbers to impress or compete with other leaders. We become jealous, discouraged, or easily impressed with those we think are more successful than we are. We doubt our calling more than we call out our doubting. If we don’t securely root our identities in Christ, we may begin to think that in order to matter we need to be well-known or popular. This is what that might look like: I’m writing the book Humility—My Greatest Quality to bless the youth ministry world with the amazing gifts God gave me. You will undoubtedly ask me to speak at your next camp. I’m excited for you to get to know me so you can see that I’m a big deal and you’re not. Insecure leaders often hide behind humor and popularity, and they use students to make themselves feel valued. They don’t see that in God’s eyes, they already have great value.

How might your calling play out differently if you were to make it more about God and less about you? 

If we hide the mess inside us, we reveal that we “need” ministry more than we need Jesus.

It is our job to be spiritual. We’re leaders—people expect us to always be on. We smile, laugh, and set an example for what it means to follow Jesus. We spend time with hurting students and struggling parents. We visit schools, cheer for students at their games, and we go on mission trips. We preach about hope and help students and volunteers experience Jesus. We talk about the life-changing love of God, yet something inside of us may be rotting.

What mess are you hiding from yourself and from others? What would it look like if you quit lying to yourself and instead trusted God?

What’s hidden underneath the surface—what don’t we let others see?

It takes character to own some of the awful stuff inside of us. Fear and pride can beat down our willingness to accept personal responsibility. We know that if we own our mess, it could threaten our influences, reputations, and—in some cases—even our jobs. This’s why too many ministry leaders let things fester until their sins are exposed to the world. If we hide who we are, it will eat away at us until our character no longer matches our calling.

Do you hide sin and poor choices—things you must own? Instead of pretending that you’re free, what if we were to reveal your true self to God and let him free you?

We teach love and forgiveness to others, yet pain, anger, depression, and fear are real for us, too. We live in the spotlight, so we often don’t allow ourselves to show our hurts and our struggles. We’ve convinced ourselves that we would be able to handle hurts caused by others if we just had a “stronger faith.” While it’s true that Jesus forgave us in a one-time event on the cross, the rest of us are imperfect and must understand that forgiveness is sometimes a process. Our wounds can be deep, painful, and hard to face. We don’t always realize the internal chaos an offense against us creates.

Do you hide hurts—things that others must own? What if you came out of the dark and let God shed light on your situation? 

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Imagine how unsatisfying life would be if all there was to us is what we let others see. Our shells are not the sum total of who we are! We all have unrealized dreams, hopes, and needs. Regardless of why or what we’re hiding

“…it is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1).

If you’re hiding the truth, it will obstruct your intimacy with God and others. What if you stopped living partially paralyzed and let God heal you?

We’re to hide in God rather than from God.

Hiding isn’t bad—it doesn’t mean we lack spiritual maturity. Our desire to hide is a natural response to fear, pain, insecurity, or shame. When we hide in God, we experience what our hearts need: protection, intimacy, love, and identity as beloved sons and daughters.

God knows your need to hide, but he wants you to hide in him.

“Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” (Psalm 57:1).

When we choose to hide anywhere other than in God, we are acting out of pride—we’re saying we can handle our inner mess better than he can. The reality is that we’re terrible at playing hide-and-seek with God. He knows everything about us yet loves us anyway. He isn’t looking to point out our faults, failures, sins, and mistakes.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).

The only way to truly lead our students is to first give God full access to everything inside us. It requires facing what is hidden—all of it.

What are you hiding, and why are you hiding it? It’s time to be the transformed life you tell your students about. You will never be able to take them somewhere you have not been yourself.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

john pontusJohn Pontius has been in youth ministry for 30 years and currently serves as the High School Director at Valley Creek Church in Flower Mound, TX.  He is also the Director of the Denton County Youth Minister Network (DCYMN).  John is passionate about helping people find true freedom in Christ, developing authentic leaders, and supporting youth pastors through the ups and downs of ministry and life.

Twitter @pontiusj

Instagram @pontiusj

Faceboook – facebook.com/john.pontius

LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/johnpon

Youth Specialties

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