Monday, December 23, 2013
Everyone In Ministry Should Experience This
Last Wednesday our youth pastor (Dan Cosentino) asked me to be at axis to be a part of an Ugly Christmas Sweater contest. As you can see above, mine was pretty ugly! He also asked if I'd be willing to share just a little bit about how things have been going for me since I transitioned from youth pastor here 4 months ago. I was thrilled about the opportunity and was really looking forward to experiencing a Wednesday night at axis again.
To my TOTAL surprise, though, the night ended up being a time when students and adults thanked me for the 11 years I served as a youth pastor. I was totally taken off guard by it. Students and adults lined up, sat down beside me, and then began to share story after story about how ... well ... how I guess I've impacted their life. For 40 minutes stories were shared. Some were incredibly serious. Some were just plain funny Some were a combination of the two. But, for 40 minutes people just poured their words of encouragement and thanks in to my life. It was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had.
A few things came to mind as they shared:
First ... if anything good comes from my life it's all because of Jesus. Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened to me and if anyone has been blessed or encouraged because of something I have done, it's all because Jesus has totally blessed my life.
Second ... most of what was shared revolved around me spending time with people. Some shared about late nights I spent at their homes. Other shared about mission trips. Others shared about how I would just sit and listen and talk with them. Others shared about weekend trips together. Well, I had the time to do things like that only because my wife freed me up to do them. Carol is an amazing woman and does so much behind the scenes. I'm constantly floored by the way she serves and helps and no one even knows about it. With 4 young children in our home, I would not have been able to do anything without her help. Being married to her really helped make me a much better youth pastor.
Third ... if anything good happened in the lives of kids at axis, it was a team effort. I had the awesome privilege of working with incredible adult volunteers. Man, they were truly awesome and I loved serving with them and watching them love on teenagers. Whatever kind words were said about me on that night would not have been said if it wasn't for our adults. The adult team I had the privilege of serving with really was an incredible team! I love those guys.
Fourth ... I wish everyone in ministry would get a chance to experience something like that. Ministry really is difficult work. It's easy to wonder if what you're doing is making a difference. It's easy to let a negative thought creep in or a lie from the enemy steal some joy. In youth ministry, especially, we often don't get to see the results of the time we put in with students. There are times when it can get discouraging. But, hearing story after story of how lives were impacted ... wow ... it just felt so encouraging and I really was able to see that what I wanted to have happen in axis and in the lives of the kids there really was able to happen. After the night, I was reminded of the many who serve in ministry who really need to hear or experience something like I did on that night. Some rarely hear it and my heart truly goes out to them.
If you're in ministry or serve other people in any type of way, let me just say ... you're making a difference. Keep pressing on. Don't give up. Stay engaged and encouraged and let God continue His work in you while you work with others. You may not see results right away, but you're efforts are making a difference. If you've been blessed by someone, please take the time to let them know how they have impacted your life.
At the end of the night, the students and adults prayed over me. I was so blessed and so encouraged and so thankful.
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