There are a few reasons we choose youth ministry as a lifelong career.
1. We want every child to have the opportunity to strengthen their dodge ball skills.
2. Lock-ins: We love them so much we lose sleep over them.
3. We have a deep appreciation for unique and unusual smells. Has anyone else ever tasted Axe body spray on a bus?
4. We enjoy the adventure of not knowing what’s going to happen to us financially when we retire.
In addition to these reasons, there is another reason, a more serious reason behind why I do what I do.
It can be summed up in a word.
I was a drop off kid—my mom dropped us off on the curb of a church and left us there for a few weeks in a row. It was there I learned an important truth about myself. I learned I was loved and forgiven. One youth pastor’s decision to invest in our lives changed our lives.
So, I wanted to continue to give back to the same place that was so instrumental in changing my life. I wanted to give my life to the church as a thank you to God for all that God accomplished in my life through youth ministry.
I feel like this is a good reason, a reason that many might resonate with. It became the reason that kept me going when I wanted to quit. It became the reason I felt so fulfilled when lives were changed. Being thankful is a good reason.
I felt good about this reason for nearly 15 years…until I replaced myself in a wonderfully stable and life-giving role as youth pastor at our church to create a global youth ministry strategy that would help teenagers help others better. God wired me to see broken cycles in the world and gave me a desire to help fix them. I felt like God was asking me to leave the comforts of what I knew so well to do a new thing in me.
It turns out you can’t get much of anything done if your reasoning fails you. Everything I had been used to doing wasn’t in arm’s reach anymore. I didn’t have a little tribe who provided me with weekly challenges and weekly wins. I wasn’t seeing Jesus directly in their eyes because I had less time to look into their eyes. I had to make an effort to find the kids who needed to be loved. It became harder to be grateful because I felt like God had left me on this one. I felt alone. I felt out of my zone. I was starting something new and didn’t know what to do. Honestly, I felt depressed and anxious. I felt like 100 books were piled up inside of my body and it was taking everything in me to leave my house, to take a phone call, to do anything really. I found myself in my own broken cycle for the first time and it was really clear that I needed to really figure out the REASON why I was doing youth ministry in the first place. Before I could tell others the reason I needed to know what it was.
What you believe to be true informs the why behind what you do.
The danger in not knowing the reason is that OUR beliefs can get trapped in our own personal broken cycles.
I found myself asking the same question every day. “What do I believe to be true? About me? About youth ministry?” And I was finding it really hard to come up with anything solid. It was a strange place to be—but not a place unreachable by the Holy Spirit.
I’m going to explain how my reasoning changed in my next post.
Until then, what’s your reason?
1. Why do you do what you do?
2. What do you believe to be true about yourself that keeps you serving?
I truly would like to hear your thoughts.
Brooklyn recently founded The Justice Movement, a church youth movement that helps teenagers help others. Her priority is to inspire and resource youth to break cycles of poverty through faith in action. An ordained pastor, Brooklyn has served in full-time youth ministry for the last 16 years, authored numerous books, contributes and communicates for Orange Leaders, and speaks at camps and conferences. She, her husband, Coy, and daughters, Kirra and Mya, live in Lakeland, Fla., where they like being outside, playing with their dog Marley. www.brooklynlindsey.com @brooklynlindsey/ www.justicemovement.com @thejustmove