Time Out: Weekly quiet times for the youth worker’s soul.
(by Adam Wormann)
Youth ministry is full of awkward situations. We all have or have heard stories of kids peeing off of second story ledges on retreats, atomic wedgies (given by leaders), kids tying themselves up with duct tape, dealing with the aftermath of filling a baptismal with powdered milk and having kids go diving for bananas (*cough* Jonathan Mckee *cough*), running into students at a football game who are slightly intoxicated, a competitive leader plowing over a girl whom he doesn’t realize has a prosthetic leg, finding two students who decide to make creative use of a dark church during games like sardines, etc. Then we have to figure out what to do when we get in the middle of the awkward situations. How do we react? Youth ministry training and Bible College don’t often prepare us for some of these. At least it makes things interesting…
But then we have more serious circumstances. Things that effect our livelihood, our emotions, our families. There’s situations that are really hard to deal with and keep us up for nights. They also invoke a reaction, often a really strong one. How do we deal with adversity? Let’s face it, in ministry, we’re going to hit it. And, it’s going to hit us…hard.
Joseph’s life was full of this kind of stuff. At the end of Genesis, his father dies, and his brothers are in fear, worried that Joseph was respecting his father, and would “repay” them after his father died:
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.”So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died,
‘Say to Joseph, Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.”
But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
So Joseph remained in Egypt, he and his father’s house. Joseph lived 110 years.
There is no doubt that when we’re working in youth ministry, whether paid or volunteer, we are going to have garbage happen. Parents, staff, students, community members…all of them will at some point misunderstand us or just flat out treat us unfairly, rudely, unjustly, or just plain neglectful (let’s not forget that we also do the same to others). Our choice is in how we react to it. We can sulk, we can make a lot of noise, we can fight, we can argue, we can complain (and some of those may be warranted at some rare points), or like Joseph we can continue to be faithful where God has us, not letting circumstances dictate who we are.
Do you ever let your past or circumstances define you?
What’s tough in life now? How are you handling it?
Are you keeping a temporary or long term perspective on life?
Adam Wormann is a Youth Pastor in Old Bridge, NJ where he’s been serving for the past 8 years. He is also one of the mentors at Life in Student Ministry and the editor of the “Time Out” series. You can stalk him on Twitter and Facebook.
Posted on October 11, 2010