Where You Are is Enough
I remember when I first entered into youth ministry I would hear people say things like: “Just wait until you become a senior pastor!” or “How long do you plan on being in youth ministry?” or “Youth ministry is great. Will you start your own church someday?”
I would nod and smile, all while thinking to myself, “What in the world are they talking about?!” Don’t get me wrong, if God would call me to start my own church or become a lead pastor of a church somewhere, I would do it, but I also know if I were to focus on the future I would miss out on the great things going on right in front of me as a youth pastor.
The fact of the matter is youth ministry is an important call in a person’s life.
Yes, it may be for a season, but it may also be for a lifetime. Nobody ever knows how long they will be in a place or position because they are not in control. When God calls someone to move on or stay, they need to listen.
This is a major issue for youth leaders.
Every so often we will have someone speak into our lives who either has no experience in student ministry or a person who feels like student ministry is a stepping stone to a “higher” position in the church, and try to direct us to something “better”. We have to be aware of the dangers of these voices. These people may have our best interest at heart. We may need to consider what they say and put it before God, but we cannot allow those thoughts to infiltrate and hinder our ministry.
When we begin to think to the future we have the danger of missing the present.
The future may be exciting to think about, but where you are now is where your energy should be pouring out.
There are too many youth leaders who are longing for the larger church with the bigger budget or dreaming of being the lead pastor guiding the direction of the church. Neither of those are horrible thoughts; however, when they consume our thinking to a point of frustration with where we are or obstruct our view of the young lives right in front of us waiting for our words, passion, friendship, and guidance, then we are missing the purpose of the here and now.
We cannot wait for tomorrow.
We all know tomorrow may never come for some of us. I am not being morbid, but serious, especially when it comes to the words of Jesus, “‘Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34).
Being anxious about what is coming next will cause us to lose focus on the trouble that needs us present today.
[bctt tweet=”Where you are now is where you are supposed to be.” username=”ys_scoop”]
The lives you are influencing now are the lives you need to embrace and serve to the best of your ability. Do not allow yourself to be overcome with thoughts of the brighter future because your present is not as bleak as you may think.
Your ministry opportunities are happening now.
It is not fair to yourself, the church, and most importantly, the students you serve if you believe they are merely a “stepping stone” to a better future role. They need your all and if you can’t give it to them because you are focused on something “bigger”, then you are missing a bright opportunity.
Your role is valuable no matter where you are. Budgets and position do not affect your ability to build relationships and have an everlasting influence on the lives of young people.
So, embrace where you are.
Rejoice in the present. Serve with passion for the eternal lives of the young people around you, and seek God’s wisdom and direction for your ministry. Allow Him to tell you when to go or when to stay and enjoy the day that He has you living and serving in right now.
May you see your role as valuable now! May you rest in where you are and not be restless for the future. May the brighter future you envision be found when you’re standing in eternity with the students you serve today.
Serve well my friends.
Bobby Benavides is a former youth pastor in Elkins, WV. He moved to West Virginia from southern California in 2003 to serve as a youth development specialist with World Vision-Appalachia. He and his wife Natasha currently live in Elkins, WV with their 3 year old son and 1 year old daughter.
You can follow him on twitter: @bobben74
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.