My Decision to Become a Youth Leader

I made a choice.

Or at least, I thought I did.

I checked “college ministry”� off the list. Sonja (my wife) and I had just joined our church, taken the membership class, and were filling out a questionnaire about our ministry interests. Somehow, my offer of working with college kids — our church occasionally hosts international students from UNH — meant I was a top target for the youth pastor. He called me the next week. None of the leaders from my “preferred” or “adult-related”� ministries did, so Sonja and I reluctantly agreed to meet with him.

I told him right away, “I hate kids.”

“C’mon, give it a shot. Come one week.”

So we went.

“Come next week, too.”

So we went again.

I’m not sure when it happened, but eventually we got hooked. Thursday nights became the highlight of our week. We started to love the kids like they were our own or at least like our own cousins — loud, slightly smelly, funny-looking cousins. I was sucked in by their excitement over taking ownership of their faith, their willingness to do anything just to do it with extraordinary (both good and bad) results, and their desperate, unspoken need to be loved and accepted by an adult.

More than loving the kids, I also loved the challenges youth ministry presented. Specifically, how it challenged me to start living what I’d just been talking about for years. For too long, I felt like I’d been coasting along, trying to play by the rules and live a good life. Being a youth worker turned (and still is turning) my life upside down.

If I was going to try and disciple others, I had better be sure my own life was in order first. I learned — and still am learning/struggling/fighting every day — how to rely on the Holy Spirit to work through me instead of falling back on my own strengths. Working to disciple others has, in turn, been my greatest personal discipleship experience.

Being a youth worker is at once the easiest and the hardest thing I do. It means I get to be a part of what God is doing in the lives of some amazing youth. They in turn are a big portion of what drives me to love God more and seek after His ways with every fiber of my being.
It turns out I wasn’t making a choice when I went to the meeting with the youth pastor. I thought I was just doing him a favor. But what really happened was I left just enough of an opening for God to start to do His work in my life. He took my plans, then revealed His. He showed me where I was supposed to be even before I had any idea what that might look like. 

I made a choice. He chose me anyway.

How did you choose to become a youth worker? Post a comment below!

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