Wednesday, September 16, 2009

To All Who Minister:

So I had this kid in my youth group several years ago. Full of potential, but a real pain in the butt. I wished he would get involved in our student ministry. He was always too busy. Sometimes he would participate; those times, he was a pain in the butt.

That kid is now a youth minister. A good one.

I keep a picture on my desk of me and this former student. We met up at a youth conference not long ago; each of us present with our own groups of teenagers. We are friends now. Colleagues.

I never saw that one coming.

I received a note this past week from another former student. This one was a great youth-grouper back in the day; one of my favorites.

Though a favorite of mine, this girl loved to make fun of my age. I was 24 at the time. It didn't matter; I was the "old" guy. Typical for an "old" guy, I was supposedly also a lousy driver. Once, she accused me of almost hitting a helpless pedestrian. (Okay, I earned that one.) This girl never let me forget. I was mocked; ridiculed. "The old guy who can't drive."

The note I received? Turns out this girl-now-mom and mother of two now volunteers to drive teens from her church to camp every summer. This summer she was accused of being old and ridiculed for her poor driving. She just wanted to let me know.


That note is hanging on the wall in front of my desk. It will for a long time.

Two of my former students married ministers. Another went overseas to do mission work. Still another is in seminary, preparing for foreign missions. The student I hear from most often? Probably that girl who came to our group as a "visitor", later to graduate from a Christian University, move back home and volunteer as a small group leader in a local student ministry.

I sometimes wonder if my work makes any difference. Some days, ministry feels like a fruitless and hopeless enterprise. I can't show you the picture that sits on my desk. It's inappropriate to fully disclose the contents of the note hanging on my bulletin board. In their stead, to all who wonder if your ministry will ever bear fruit, I offer this post as an affirmation and encouragement.

Don't give up.

- DB


Josh said...

Excellent post. Thanks for sharing. I have Senior Pictures hanging in my office of most of the teens who have graduated from one of my groups. It does bring a smile to my face to look at those pictures and think about where they are now. Especially the pain in the butt ones.

Casey McCollum said...


Keith Clark said...

Thanks for sharing Dave!

Franklin Wood said...

Don't ya love those stories? Those are sweet moments, Dave, thanks for sharing.
I think if people stayed in YM longer, they would get these stories and we would see more long-term YMs. As it is, people don't stay in it long enough for a former teen to contact them later in life!

Bryan Johnston said...

Thanks for the post you "Old Guy"

Livonia WINGS said...

It's always nice when you find out what the kids have turned into once they're done cookin'. I have been fortunate enough to see this with former students, as well.