Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Youth ministry calling and cost

Here is more question and answer from my EPC youth minister class.  In it, I refer to other comments on our forum, the class teacher's definition of calling, and a letter that was read by said teacher about a wife who finally left her husband because he was so good at his job that he neglected his family.  I can provide the calling definition: God’s hand leading us to a specific place, position, or task in order to glorify himself as we faithfully serve him.

What is your definition of calling?
At this point, I wish I had answered this question before I heard the lecture, because Mark provided a good definition. You do feel some urging to go somewhere, and it is usually based on interests and talents God has given you. And like Leah said, calling does change sometimes. My calling to serve the kids at Trinity has not changed, but God has called me back to school and in a different field: legal studies. Looks like I'll be making tents at some point, but that's good because I then meet more people, get out of the house, and follow Jesus in places that otherwise would not care about Jesus.

How were you called into youth ministry?
I volunteered with the children at a friend's church in 2006 while still in college. The year before, I had been to Ukraine on a 10-day mission trip and realized that I loved being with the children. The summer of 2006, I was driving back to my dorm on Edmondton Rd. in Nashville when I felt the call to minister to youth and children.

What expectations do you struggle with?
When I first got my church job after seminary and internships, I did expect it to be a lot bigger and more involved. Those ideas got smashed when I had few kids, only every other week, and it was such a situation that we could not do anything outside of normal church times on Sunday. We went from having an afternoon youth group to just teen Sunday School, and we still have Children's Church up to 3rd grade consistently. I still envision having a pastoral job where I can make enough money to move out of my house and not have to keep looking for other jobs. I had no idea that I'd go back to school (although I do just as much theological stuff there as I do at church.) I also have the temptation to try to do everything myself, and I'm so glad that expectation failed because I would and have gone insane with stress. Just the fact that I now have a class on Wednesday nights (yes, one of my church work hours) is God's message that it's not all about me and other people can do my work. It won't fall apart if I'm not there. I just need to delegate and instruct people what to do.
I don't have a husband or children yet, so I don't have to worry about not being there for them, but when I do, I hope to be stay-at-home-mom, focusing mostly on my kids and still do enough to minister to the church kids. I don't see any reason why a youth pastor would need to spend more than one night a week doing pastoral duties, especially not until midnight. Especially in this day when you can get accused of sexual harrasment. It's like the man in the "mad wife" letter was more married to his job and having emotional affairs with his students and neglecting his calling as a husband to be be the head of his household. I figure if a marriage is falling apart, for both men and women in ministry, then you should either back off or step down. Usually, such people aren't aware of it, so we need to have accountability.

Are you willing to ask someone close to you how you are doing with balance, if so how did they respond?
I have plenty of mother friends I can call for advice and one counseler. I've had classes in seminary that told me I need to take care of my health and friendships if I'm to be a successful minister. I need to have at least 5 adult friends that I see on a regular basis. And as I'm preparing for another job outside of church, I feel like my life is more balanced than it would have been had I not finally given in and gone back to school. I'm not neglecting my call to minister to kids and their families and to teach the kids theology and Bible, but I'm also realizing that my job and God are not the same thing even though my job is for God. Our job is to also love our neighbors.

Do you nurture your relationship with God?
Every day I read Scripture and sing from a hymnbook and keep a prayer journal. It keeps me afloat. Sometimes it's out of duty and more mechanical, and I read the words "blah blah blah," but I still do it because God uses that time to keep my alive spiritually. Also, on Sundays, since I don't hear sermons, I listen to R.C. Sproul CDs on the way to church and I also fellowship with close Christian friends. I seek out Bible study groups outside of church to feed my own soul, and God has really taken care of me despite my draw to work alone and be a loner.

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