Sunday, July 12, 2009

Know Why

One day last week, I was about to begin the unpleasant task of gassing and vacuuming the church vans following our youth group trip to Worlds of Fun. The vans and I have a pretty close relationship, because almost every week, they're taken to camp, and it's typically my duty to take care of them upon their return. Thanks to this practice, I have become more efficient in vacuuming them as I can now clean a 15-passenger vehicle using four dollars of quarters, whereas it used to take five (once I even did it in three). It's not really that bad of a job except for the miserable Kansas summer climate, which makes the vans like my own personal saunas.

Anyways, I was in the church getting some paper towels for the Hershey Kisses that had been smashed into the van floor and melted in the 100-degree heat when I bumped into one of the church elders whom I had not previously met. He is a very unique person, I soon realized. There is not an iota of shyness in his body, and right away he was talking to me about school and what I want to do in ministry and all sorts of things. At times it felt more like a military interrogation than anything. He wanted to be sure that I knew some Bible, so he made me quote a verse. After I did, he quoted 1 Tim. 4:12, which is about not letting people look down on you because of your youth but setting an example in life, love, faith, speech, and purity. He then expounded on each of these virtues, and when he got to purity, he asked me straightforwardly, "Do you look at pornography?" Not exactly a normal "small talk" question that you hear right after meeting someone. So he definitely got right down to the point of what he wanted to talk about.

He also asked me a lot about how I decided to go into ministry and what I wanted to do and all that. When he asked why I wanted to be a youth minister, I mumbled some flaky reason about how I felt God wanted me to be. Honestly, I just wanted to end the conversation, because I was already feeling pretty awkward and was in a hurry to get to the church vans. But what the elder said next made me step back and think a little. He said, "I don't care about what you feel. Feelings go up and down. Now do you know that God wants you to be a minister?"

If you know me, you know that statement resounds with how I work. I don't often make decisions based on how I feel. I think about things. And then I think some more. And then I overthink. And then I write about it on here. And I definitely didn't make a decision as significant as what I wanted to do with my life based only on feelings. But what what elder said forced me to reflect on my purpose in ministry. About why I decided to get into it.

I guess this post is more or less directed at those going into ministry. But the good thing is that, in a sense, all of us should be going into or already involved in some sort of ministry. When I got to Ozark, I had a sense of calling. I knew what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it. I had purpose. I'm afraid that what can happen as we progress through Bible college is that we eventually get so busy doing ministry stuff that we forget why we're doing it in the first place. We know all the methods and strategies and everything, but the perceived need that pushed us in the first place has become foggy. If you're at Bible college or in ministry, at some point you felt God push you there. But you probably also sensed a need in the world. When we forget that push and that need, our ministry becomes unguided.

I do feel like God wants me to be a youth minister. But it's not just an inner emotion or holy goosebumps. I'm sick of the statistics that say 60/70/80 percent of youth group kids leave the church in college. I've seen way too many students get all hyped up about Jesus at CIY and camp only to forget about it a month later. I think the American high school is one of the greatest misison fields on the planet. And that's why I want to be a youth minister. I didn't think fast enough to share any of that with the elder, but instead walked away feeling like an idiot and questioning whether or not I'm cut out for ministry. So take a little time to think about why you're doing whatever you do. God wants to use all of us. So it's probably not a bad idea to figure out how and why.

I don't pay much attention to the news, so maybe you don't either. But here's some news: There's some crazy political situations in Honduras right now. As I understand it, the president was doing some bad things, so the military kicked him out and a new president was installed, but the old one wants to come back. I was in Honduras this last spring break, and I love the country and it's people a great deal, so please be praying for the political situation in the nation, and especially be praying for Mision Caribe and my friends there.


JoR said...

I almost hate it when people put it to me like that. It makes me feel like I missed something but didn't really have the chance to get it in the first place...and then I realize that I'm gonna have to learn some things with a punch, cause I wouldn't have gotten it any other way.

Jackie said...

Be aware that I plan to ask you many of these same questions at church camp...probably in front of our family group and maybe also in front of a few other family groups.