One of my biggest pet peeves is hearing the phrase:
“I don’t have anything to do”
Man. Oh. Man.
Upon writing those words, I can feel my face twitch and contort into a Mad Hatter-esque appearance (the Johnny Depp version because he was brilliant with that role). Which is highly appropriate since that phrase drives me absolutely bonkers.
Having been the first in my family to graduate with high honors from a four-year university, paying tuition entirely on my own (by means of either working full-time or two part-time jobs that would work with my school schedule) earning multiple scholarships and degrees, while also having volunteered with various non-profits, I’m not guilty of over-using the phrase “I have nothing to do”. Truthfully, I probably had more reminders to take a break than to start working – just ask my college room mate or my parents. Especially now, since I’ve recently dived into the world of Student Ministry.
Don’t get me wrong, I love not having anything to do; I definitely love free-time and relaxation like all other human-beings out there, but one of my life mantras is: Dreams don’t work unless you do. And coming from a family of driven and ambitious self-starters, that mantra rings very true for me.
Student Ministry (and Ministry in general) is no joke. There is always a gazillion things to do. There is so much more to the dynamic of leading a Student Ministry than just an hour on Sunday morning or an hour on Wednesday night. Did you know that youth pastors and their staff typically invest much more than 40 hours into their students per week? What does that even mean; what does that look like? To be blunt, it means your Student Ministry leadership really loves Jesus, His mission and your kids more than money.
I was at lunch with a network of student pastors the other day and they were enlightening me about aspects of seminary life:
“They don’t teach you in seminary that the job description for Student Pastor didn’t include resident graphic designer, janitor, buffer, scapegoat, accountant, IT technician, coach, mentor, assumed babysitter, etc”.
The title, “Student Pastor” has so much more depth than normally considered. I also learned that there’s no such thing as a part-time Student Pastor (part-time pay, yes, but it’s always full-time hours). These people are unbelievably dedicated and passionate about what they do. Ain’t that the truth.
What I really adore about our Student Ministry leadership is that we are visionaries and go-getters, self-starters and detailed hard-workers with high expectations. We love investing in our students’ lives and equipping those who want to invest in them too. The only issue is that it is a rare occasion to say, “we don’t have anything to do” because the fact of the matter is, we never don’t have anything to do – We are constantly looking forward to make our ministry better and more effective. Like I mentioned earlier, there is always a gazillion things on our plate – especially because we are a growing church. Unfortunately, there aren’t a gazillion of us to tackle all of the work. In fact, there is less than a handful.
We need help. There, I said it. But there’s a difference in desperation and opportunity. And boy, we have some awesome opportunities.
We need leaders. We need middle schoolers, high schoolers, their parents, aunties, uncles, grandparents, basically anyone who has the heart and courage to step forward so we can train them upward. We need more small group leaders, people to run the student cafe, registration attendants, greeters, ushers, singers, musicians, tech people, and we definitely need help around the office (think postcard writing, stamping, etc). We have a lot of dreamers in student ministry who have awesome ideas, but People, dreams don’t work unless you do.
We need help. We need you.
My prayer and hope this week is that you be encouraged and motivated to take the step from being just a dreamer to an active dream-builder in your local student ministry. Start by talking to your student pastor, coordinator, director, go-to person, whatever. Come a couple of hours earlier on service nights and ask what you can do to help – I promise you, they will never turn away those who are teachable, have heart, availability, and faith; just be prepared to put your work gloves on!