I’ve not known many youth leaders who can keep a clean car, a tidy desk and a schedule full of the right priorities. It’s hard to mobilize teens for the gospel, prepare weekly lessons and check off the long to-do list for the annual mission trip and still keep everything minty fresh.
Most youth leaders I’ve met who are worth their salt have sugary Mountain Dew syrup in their car’s cup holder and empty energy drink cans under the driver’s seat. On their desks you can find sermon illustration books, coffee-stained issues of youth ministry magazines and doodled-up napkins from Subway.
But in between the mustard stains on these random napkins often lies their next great ministry idea. Their offices tend to look like a mad scientist’s hideout, full of crazy gizmos, piles of files and non-discernable scribbles (by mere mortals anyway) on their not-so-white-anymore boards.
Messy youth leaders are so busy equipping their student and adult leaders to make and multiply disciples that they don’t have time to do an office overhaul. They are so engaged in the gritty process of transforming lives that a few random Taco Bell wrappers here and there seem like a necessary nuisance.
Is a messy youth pastor as efficient and effective as he/she could be? Probably not. Would these messy youth leaders be able to get more done in less time if they took an hour or two every week to clean, file and organize? Probably so.
But may that commitment to clean the clutter never replace the importance of scribbling down that latest Holy Spirit triggered idea on the closest piece of paper you can find. May that resolution to reorganize never result in sacrificing the messy discipleship process of packing sweaty teenagers into a car and driving them to evangelize on the gritty, gum-covered sidewalks of the needy parts of the city.
Better to be messy and effective than organized and ordinary.