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me…and youth ministry…. April 2, 2007

Posted by abi in life, ministry.
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So this past year has been pretty amazing.  God has taught me a lot.  And I have been loving my part-time youth ministry coordinator position.  I feel like there is a lot more I can do, but hopefully with time it will grow and I’ll learn how to better minister and be more effective.  I really thought it would just be a good part-time thing I’d do for a little while though.  But this past month or so, I’ve been feeling that God may be calling me to do this for longer than I thought and possibly full-time.  I don’t really know what shape this will take or what it will look like, but its an exciting concept that I’m working on wrapping my head around and just praying like crazy that God continues to lead and guide me.  As I do, I have been thinking and reading about other youth minister’s expereinces and callings.  Here are some parts of an article I really like:

Call of the Wild
The Call to Ministry
by Duffy Robbins

When Sir Ernest Shackleton set out to find a crew for what turned out to be his ill-fated voyage to Antarctica in 1915, he placed an ad in the Times of London which read: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success. Ernest Shackleton.” Amazingly, over 5,000 men applied.

The call to youth ministry—its own journey of adventure, risk, and discovery—is likewise a calling unsuited to the faint of heart. And yet, despite the challenges, despite the likelihood of low honor and recognition, despite the small wages and occasional seasons of darkness and discouragement, we sign on, eager to see where God might lead us. And it’s an amazing adventure!

But how do we know if we’re called to this journey? How do we discern God’s calling? How do we know if we’re called to ministry as servants of the servants? And who in their right minds would want to face the hassles and hazards of ministry without some fairly certain sense that this is the will of God?

The great theologian H. Richard Niebuhr wrote of four different calls that come to those set apart for pastoral ministry: (1) the call to be a Christian, (2) the secret call, (3) the providential call, and (4) the ecclesiastical call. First and foremost, we must understand that the call of God moves from the inside out. It’s an adventure that begins in the heart.

Ben Patterson writes, “There is always a sense of compulsion, at times even a sense of violence, about God’s call.” Jeremiah described it “…like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9). The Apostle Paul avowed, “…woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). These are those deep inner nudges of God’s secret call to ministry.

Sometimes it cajoles us; sometimes it prods us; sometimes it reassures us; sometimes it pesters us—this intangible, inexplicable sense that God is calling us into pastoral work and a growing sense of holy discontent with anything other than the pastoral vocation. In fact, Charles Spurgeon, who saw this holy discontent as an important sign of a pastoral calling, encouraged his students not to pursue pastoral ministry if they felt they could be content doing anything else.

The English word for….A vocation or calling is different. Derived from the Latin word voco, it points neither to a map nor a guidebook, but to the ultimate guide. The emphasis isn’t on following a course but on responding to a voice—no schedule, no itinerary, no well-laid plans. This is walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). The whole enterprise depends on listening (John 6:28-29).

If the nudge is persistent—dare I say nagging—keep moving forward. Don’t wait for the road map; start moving and let God lead. Just as it’s easier to steer a moving vehicle than a parked one, guidance comes more often to those on their feet than those on their seats. Waiting on the Lord is fine; but don’t make God wait on you.

As God explained to Moses, sometimes the confirmation of your call will only come as you are obedient to that call—not before you obey, but as you obey. In response to Moses’ reluctant balking, “God said, ‘I will be with you. And this shall be the sign for you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.'” (Exodus 3:12). The sign he was sent came as he went.

This phase of the call should also be marked by cautious, honest self-examination. Is this really about my passion for Christ, or about my passion for youth ministry? Is this about my desire to meet the needs of students, or is it about my needs being met by being in front of students? Do I have the gifts, the temperament, the relational skills that this work might require? Am I at a place of spiritual maturity where I can be a healthy, consistent role model for students?

One of the biggest misconceptions in sorting out this secret, inner sense of call is that God would never call us to do something that gives us great pleasure. There’s an attitude: “God couldn’t be leading me to do this, because I like it too much.” Not only does such a notion betray the goodness of God, it also betrays God’s wisdom. Sure there are calls to sacrifice, and certainly there are times when we must do in obedience what we don’t want to do. But, why wouldn’t God create us with a desire to do that which we’re called to do? It is this truth that led Buechner to observe, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” This isn’t, “You are what you do”; this is “You do what you are.”

God [also] never calls us to do what we’ve not been prepared to do (1 Thessalonians 5:24). The question to ask is a simple one: “Has God given me gifts, talents, experiences, the aptitude, and the temperament for ministry?

First of all, if this is God’s call upon one’s life, the greatest joy will always be in obedience. Whatever God leads us to do is a worthwhile pursuit.

Folks we now refer to in the church as “ministers” are, in the New Testament, called diakonoi. Derived from the Greek word for “service” (1 Corinthians 12:4-30), it was Paul’s favorite title for Christian leaders. Significantly, it’s the same word that’s the root for “butler” and “waiter.” Will Willimon observes how odd it is that the church should designate its leaders by so mundane and lowly a term. In thinking through the question of calling, it’s a fact we would do well to consider.

Those 5,000 men who sought to volunteer for the fateful voyage of The Endurance had no idea where the journey might lead, but they had both a heart to serve and a heart for adventure. In considering a calling to youth ministry, surely we need no less.

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