An Open Letter to the Person Who Didn't Sign Up For This
When I began working in youth ministry, I was not prepared for some of the tough stuff that came along with it. I thought that being a youth leader meant awesome conversations with super precious teenagers about Jesus, fun trips in the church van, and always having the assurance that you were making a difference. Imagine the reality check I got when I realized it was trying incredibly hard to simply convince a tenth grader that they needed Jesus, insanely hot trips in the church van, and literally leaving the parking lot on a Wednesday night wondering if Wal-Mart was hiring because I wasn’t sure if I was even leaving a mark on these kids. Yeah, that tough stuff? I truly believed that was certainly not what I signed up for. However, while I have only been in this ministry for a short time, God has shown me that what I have walked into is an intense spiritual battle--one that can only be won when we fight with Him. This is indeed what I signed up for, and I serve a God who conquers every battle that comes my way.
An Open Letter To The Person Who Didn't Sign Up For This:
To the one who worked so hard on a message to share on a Wednesday night. You were so excited. You knew for sure that this particular sermon would change the lives of your students, setting them on fire for God. Your dreams were crushed when instead of, “AMEN!” you heard snoring from a middle schooler that didn’t find your words as interesting as you thought they’d be. Is this what you signed up for?
To the one who just got off of the phone with an angry parent. You’re not really sure why they are so upset. You are doing everything you can to minister to their student, and right now they just don’t see that. Is this what you signed up for?
To the one who has prayed over a wayward student, hoping to see even the smallest spark of change in their lives. It must have hurt when you realized not much progress seemed to be taking place. Is this what you signed up for?
To the one who just can't seem to get rid of the crushing anxiety that comes with leading your students. You want so badly to feel comfortable and at ease. Instead you lie awake at night wondering when you will find peace. Is this what you signed up for?
To the one who spent hours setting up an event, only to have no one show up. You feel like a failure as the minutes continue to pass and you realize that you are the only attendee. Is this what you signed up for?
To the one who pours out so much only to feel drained and worn.
To the one who doesn’t see a single difference being made.
To the one who wonders if it is all worth it.
Is this what you signed up for?
Yes. Yes, it is.
You signed up to serve, and sometimes serving is hard.
You signed up to minister, and sometimes ministry is messy.
You signed up to share with others the love of Christ, and that is not an easy task.
And you signed up to fight.
We are reminded in Ephesians 6 that our battle is not merely against flesh and blood, but against much more than that. Against an Enemy who longs to stand between any individual and their salvation. When you stepped into the role of ministering to your students, you stepped into battle. The Enemy sees that you are there to point these precious teenagers to the Lord and he will do whatever he can to make sure that doesn't happen.
When you realize that an attack is coming, begin to quickly slip that armor on. Put on that belt and declare truth over your students. Hold up that breastplate of righteousness and keep preaching the Gospel in your ministry. Get out that shield of faith, holding it high to stop each and every arrow Satan tries to throw at you. Put on that helmet of salvation, knowing with God fighting on your side, you will be able to place one on the heads of your students as well.
Pray, pray, pray. Speak life into those dark moments. Take your students to the Lord by name. Declare victory over what Satan is trying to defeat.
Take heart; you are making a difference. Fight with the Lord and you will not lose.
Trust that God is always moving and continue working even when it seems like He is not. There will come a day where you will look back and see that He was always there, always fighting with you.
As you drive out of that church parking lot after an exhausting day of ministry, remember that this is what you signed up for. But with Almighty God on your side, I promise you that you will get through.
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)