On Transitions and Growing Up
For the first 10 years of our ministry, I was a youth group leader, involved in every event, leading small groups, chaperoning on trips. I loved it.
But around the 6 year mark of our youth ministry, I started having babies and it changed my level of involvement. It didn’t change my love for youth, but it did change how long I could stay and the things that I could do. I distinctly remember the youth group night when I tried to nurse my baby in a curtained off room close to where my husband was speaking. I didn’t want to miss any of it, but hearing her Daddy’s voice made for one very distracted little girl.
It didn’t work and I began to learn some valuable lessons about mothering and ministry. My babies had to be my first priority. Ministry was going to look different and this was not a bad thing. Our youth didn’t need ME to follow Christ. But they did need someone who would point them to Him and so I learned in that transition time to focus my heart on pursuing Christ and less on trying to do ministry the way I had always done it.
My firstborn has continued to provide me with valuable teachable moments. I was trained in my camp counseling years to look for those moments when I could share Christ with campers, but what I have learned in motherhood is that my kids have a tendency to teach ME. They have taught me how selfish I can be, how frustration can bubble so quickly to the surface, how it is impossible to handle everything well. They have taught me to say “I’m sorry”, to seek grace and to pray for and with them.
I share all of this, because today marks a new transition for me. It has been 12 years since that baby girl changed my life and 8 years since we have been in youth ministry (officially). Today, my girl will go on her first official youth group trip.
For some reason, this seems huge and monumental and impossible to me!
Last night as I hugged my girl before bedtime, I was overcome by the size of her. We now stand eye to eye on feet that often wear the same shoes. My girl is a little woman and once again, I am officially in youth ministry. But it looks a little different than it did 18 years ago when I first started serving along side my then fiance youth pastor.
Today, my level of involvement in youth ministry is of the 24/7 nature. My every move is subject to criticism and opinions, but those moves are also an opportunity to demonstrate Christ’s love. What a strange mix of terror and joy this brings!
And so, my baby girl, as you enter these youth ministry years, I want you to know that I will give you the space to figure this all out. I won’t be at every event, but I can guarantee that I WILL always be there. You have taught me that I don’t have to be physically present to love others well. As crazy as it is for me to think that you are entering youth group, I am so excited for you and the opportunities that I know will come your way. While this time will be an awkward time as you figure out who you are and who you want to be, it is also an incredibly fun time. Through it all, I will be praying for you, praying along side of you and here for you. You and your siblings are my best ministry and I love you to infinity and beyond. Always and forever.