Friday, August 27, 2010

Understanding Doesn't Make it Right

Being a Youth Pastor brings it's share of confusing/frustrating statements that you can hear multiple times from multiple sources. Three that rise to the top for me...
  • So when do you think you'll become a "real pastor"? It's actually rarely asked in this exact form. It usually takes the form, "Do you ever see yourself as a Senior Pastor?" or "When do you think you'll move on from being a youth pastor?" Obviously, the way I interpret is shows where my confusion/frustration comes from... is there something wrong with the thought that I would love to go to the grave as a youth pastor? I firmly believe God has called me, along with a select group of others to life of raising up generations that will take over the church.

  • What are we going to do about ____________? Insert blank with some issue surrounding the youth in the church... texting during worship services, students who were caught at a party over the weekend, a student who is struggling to connect in the youth ministry, immodest dress at a church program, a sudden onslaught of students getting non-ear piercings and Twilight themed tattoos. The confusion/frustration can be in one of two forms.
    1. What exactly to you mean by we? Are you sure you don't mean you? Now, don't get me wrong, there are the rare times where someone comes to me with an issue and they are authentically looking for a team approach, but most often, someone's irritated with something "those youth" are doing, but in no way desires to do anything about it. Are you bothered by the disruption being caused by a group of students in a Worship Service? Let them know!
    2. Do we really need to do anything about ____________? There are moments where the issue brought to me is a concern, and I'm actually really excited about it! Take the moment one of our leaders came to me and said, "What are we going to do about all these girls showing up in such skimpy outfits?" I asked her to discreetly point out a couple of examples out. She did so. The leader had room for concern... the shorts and shirts were probably better fitting on a 2nd Grader than a High School students. and I smiled (no, not because of that! Get your mind out of the gutter). I smiled because I was aware of both gals stories.
      One was completely unchurched and had come with a friend who had been loving, praying and encouraging her for months to come. This "immodest" gal had been coming for several weeks and was really seeking to understand what it meant to know Christ.
      The second was from a very religious home where her parents had recently gone through a divorce where an affair was involved. She was deeply hurt to see her "Christian" dad abandon her family for someone other than her mom.
      I smiled, because I thought to myself, "I'm so glad these two gals are here so we can share our hearts and hopefully see Christ touch there hearts (inside). Yes, there was room to address the appropriateness of the dress, and I affirmed the leader's desire for us to be a ministry that models and encourages modesty. I also said it would be best for us to do nothing about the dress with these two gals right now. Rather, let's just love them where they are at, and introduce (or remind them) of a Savior who wants to love them right where they are at. We'll get the clothes sent to the Children's Ministry department in due time!

  • You'll understand when you become a parent. Now that I am a parent, it's become, "You'll understand when you become a parent of a teenager." Now, I'll give latitude on this one. There have been many times already since becoming a parent that I see where this statement made to me pre-parenting was absolutely correct. When parents talk to me about the angst of seeing their child off for camp or a missions trip, I get it. I don understand much better now. When parents describe their utter confusion on how to be the best parent possible, hoping to find a nice 5-12 step process to walk through situations, I get it. When it's done in a way to simply say, we're struggling and we don't know how to best put into words that struggle, I get it.
    But here's what I don't get. A mom is walking through how while her daughter hits the party scene and decide it would be best to put her on birth control "just in case." A mom/dad have decided that their son's High School athletic career is so important that there will be no room for any church related activities (camps, retreats, non-Sunday morning programming) because that's the only way he'll make the starting lineup. In both of these situations, the "You'll understand when you become a parent" line is almost used to justify wrong actions. The parents are right, I may not understand. At the same time, I may understand, and even if I understand, that doesn't make an action right.
    One of my regular prayers is for courageous parents who will empathize with their students, show compassion toward their struggles, but stand strong in their principles and faith.
By no means do I have this thing figured out. I'm sure I've made many cliche statements and asked my share of completely insulting questions to those around me. I only share this little rant to remind myself and others that the world of Youth Ministry is.

1. A calling, not a stepping stone.
2. A tricky balance between action and seeing deeper into what's really going on.
3. A battle for truth and living a radical life where understanding will never trump what's right.

1 comment:

Kory said...

Amen Derry. Amen. Good stuff brought from a man of passion and compassion. Thanks for inspiring me today.