I used to watch “The Practice” religiously. It was a tv series about a law office that constantly was hired to defend thugs and guilty men and women accused of the worst set of crimes. Their anti-thesis was the District Attorney. Being a D.A. against “The Practice” was gut-wrenching work and unlike Bobby Donnel’s Law Firm, no defendant paid them double if they won cuz they were court appointed. The D.A.’s job was thankless. Maybe it was why I found camaraderie with them in moments of discouragement.
But I’ll never forget this one episode. One of the District Attorneys, Helen, wants to quit. The trial went bad, the public is not happy, they probably just lost and let a guy everyone knows was guilty go free and the thankless factor had hit an all-time high. So in the very last scene of the episode they’re in restaurant and eating dinner when Helen puts down her fork and says to Richard:
Helen Gamble: I need it, Richard. Give it to me.
Richard Bay: What?
Helen Gamble: The speech. Why we do what we do.
Richard Bay: Oh, I am not really in the mood after…
Helen Gamble: PLEASE, Richard. I NEED it. Please give it to me. And don’t just phone it in.
Richard Bay: Helen…
Helen Gamble: Please! Can’t you see how demoralized I am?
Richard Bay: OK. (takes a deep breath) There are heroes in this world. They’re called District Attorneys. They don’t get to have clients, people who smile at them at the end of the trial, who look them in the eye and say, “thank you.” Nobody is there to appreciate the District Attorney, because we work for the state. And our gratitude comes only from knowing there’s a tide out there. A tide the size of a tsunami coming out of a bottomless cesspool. A tide called crime, which, if left unchecked will rob every American of his freedom. A tide which strips individuals of the privilege of being able to, to walk down a dark street or take twenty dollars out of an ATM machine without fear of being mugged. (entire restaurant has stopped eating and is now listening) All Congress does is talk, but it’s the District Attorney who grabs his sword, who digs into the trenches and fights the fight. Who dogs justice day, after day, after day without thanks, without so much as a simple pat on the back. But we do it. We do it, we do it because we are the crusaders, the last frontier of American justice. Knowing that if a man cannot feel safe, he can never, never feel free.
Helen Gamble: Thank you.
Truth is, we all need “the speech” every now and again.
If you’re a parent and frustrated: maybe you need the why your kid still needs you, even if they don’t know how to say that speech.
If you’re a couple struggling and considering divorce: maybe you need the you walked the isle and said divorce is not an option speech.
If you’re wondering if your life will ever get better, maybe you need the God is not done with you speech.
And if you’re in youth ministry, and you are feeling discouraged: then maybe you need “the why we do this speech”. And if you can’t muster up the energy to give it to yourself, here goes. In honor of students and “The Speech”, I’ll give it to you:
There are heroes in the world of today’s youth. They are called Youth Workers. They are a rare breed. They are the ones who walk into the turmoil of teenage life when everyone else is walking out. They stand in the face of countless statistics that warn of the ills that this generation will have to endure. They know what’s at stake and they fight for the lives that lie behind every number. Where others merely see rebellion, they see a generation in need of hope.
They love God and love students and they’d do anything to see those two loves meet. They give up weekends and luxury retreats to sit on busses and take vacation time to invest in a week of camp or tent-filled missions instead. They lose sleep in prayer, give money in scholarships, and invest time in just simply being there. Youth workers invest in a generation with all they have, all the time.
Youth workers know intrinsically that quitting won’t solve anyone’s problems- least of all those of our young people. They don’t need a survey to them that families struggle because they see it on the faces of those they minister to all the time. Teens need a mentor and far too many have already quit on them, so as a youth worker, they step up. They listen when others judge. They cry when others just rant. They see potential where others only see pain.
Youth workers are rarely thanked. Rarely paid well. And even rarer understood. They are both living on the front lines of the battle and are our last line of defense before full fledged adulthood. They are a God-given gift to students, to families, to the church and to the culture.
We cannot afford to lose even one for the harvest is plentiful, but the youth workers are too few.
So if you’re a youth worker. Your work matters. Students need you. Families need you. I need you. Please don’t quit. You’re making a world of difference and one day… your Savior- and if you’re lucky, your students- will thank you face-to-face saying, “Well done. Thank you for staying the course. You are a good and faithful servant.”