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1 Kings 19 for Youth Workers

And the word of the LORD came to him (or her): “What are you doing here, Youth Worker?”

Youth Worker replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The teenagers (or the people of this church, or the staff of this church) have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind*.

*wind =
the diminishing comment from a board member
the absurdist rules about facility usage and how they leave you feeling like you work for the custodian and kitchen police
the wearying conversation with your pastor about getting your numbers up
the snide comparisons with the last youth worker
the passive-aggressive threat from that angry parent because you can’t seem to “fix” her child

After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake*.

*earthquake =
the freakin’ sports teams that seem to schedule their games when you’ve made youth group plans
the volunteer who quit in a flurry because you wouldn’t make the changes he wanted
the three girls who stopped attending, though you cannot figure out why
the big church down the street that seems to actively recruit kids from your group
the budget slashing that dashed your plans to attend an event that would nurture your soul

After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire*.

*fire =
the clash between your sense of calling and your empty bank account
the inner monologue that constantly tells you you’re not doing enough
the tension between honoring your day off and the never-ending needs of the teenagers you love
the cell phone that won’t stop buzzing; the facebook page that always has new messages
the temptation to limit your identity to your role

And after the fire came a gentle whisper*. When Youth Worker heard it, Youth Worker pulled the cloak over her (or his) face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to Youth Worker, “What are you doing here?”

*gentle whisper =
the LORD, whispering to you,
calling you,
connecting with you,
knowing you, by name

do you hear the whisper?
and, what’s your answer to the question?

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moestreicher@churchleaders.com'
Mark Oestreicher is a 30-year veteran of youth ministry, and the former President of Youth Specialties. Marko has written or contributed to more than 50 books, including the much-talked-about Youth Ministry 3.0. Marko is a speaker, author, consultant, and leads the Youth Ministry Coaching Program.