You matter. It's not what you do, it's you. More than you matter to your family, your students, your church, or anyone else, you matter to God.
When the days are hard, it's tough to remember that before you mattered to anyone else, you mattered to God. He knew you first. He sees your whole life from beginning to end, and He always has. He sees your potential and created you to fulfill it. He knows what it is to be you, face what you face, feel what you feel, because He put on frail humanity for you. No, He hasn't faced your elder board or senior pastor, or a difficult parent, or your unruly students. But He has faced Pilate, the High Priests, his broken-hearted mother, a skeptical hometown, and mentored a promising but thick-headed group of guys (who incidentally achieved astounding results after He'd gone on).
God knows what you're capable of, and he offers you the strength and support to accomplish every good thing he's set out for you. There are a lot of days where it isn't going to feel that way emotionally. Sometimes the sheep bite, but we're called to go after the strays anyway.
You're God's chosen kid. He looks for reasons to brag on you, and He wants you to be encouraged that He's picked you to do His work among students. Need a reminder of what makes it worth doing? The amazing, humbling rush of being able to share the Savior with youth and help them to do the same. To see – both literally and metaphorically – the lame walk, the blind see, the captives set free, and learn what it is to be loved, whole and free as we navigate all this broken world can heave into our path. For me, that has been more than enough reward for the heartbreak of seeing some choose to stay lame or blind or captive, in whole or in part. To live life with folks and help each other be all Jesus calls us into… it's both hard and priceless.
The hard stuff we face? That's part of this broken world we live in, and we were warned about there being lots of junk to get through. Those of us called to ministry get plenty of junk, in addition to our own share, because we're putting ourselves out there and leading others through the muck while knowing that we're with a Savior who slogged through it too, and promised not to leave us helpless. Jesus overcame the world, and you matter to Him.
When the days are hard, and it's easier to think about giving up than pressing on, what do you do? The best advice I ever got about that? Don't question in the darkness what God has given you in the light. You matter to God on the hard days most of all. He's offering a hand and pulling you up out of the miry clay, and calling you back to the field. The call is there for the tough days too, and I pray you'll have a clear, clear sense of call, and the peace that passes all understanding as you continue on this adventure with Jesus.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ[.]Philippians 3:12-20a.