Tonight, after 8 years of youth ministry, I walked out of the youth room for the final time. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. I thought I’d always be working with young people, teaching them, loving them, inspiring them … yelling at them. The goal never was to be a pastor as I am now. The goal was always to preach a message of hope to young people who had long lost any sense of hope. To love them. To help them find healing. To help them find, well, hope. Just hope.
Sure, over the last 24 months as I knew changes were coming, I did have some hope in the possibility. Hope of having a Friday night off once in a while. Hope of not having to clean barf stains out of hallway carpet after a game goes a little too far. Hope of not worrying about arranging rides for 30 people and then have only 5 show up … or arrange rides for 5 people and have 30 show up.
It’s been an amazing 8 years. More amazing than I could have ever imagined when I first received a phone call asking if I’d like to interview for a job at a church. I’ve had the honour of watching so many young people grow up right before my eyes. All of them are intelligent and gifted in their own unique ways. Most of them are taller than me now – or were already. Most of them have grown up into fine young adults. A few have lost their way, but I know for them there is the greatest hope in front of them yet … because I am living proof of the message I’ve preached to them faithfully for 8 years.
A message preached of hope.
That a life surrendered to Jesus, a life willing to follow obediently no matter the cost, a life willing to lay down for another, is a life filled with immeasurable hope. I have been hopeless. People have looked at me and seen hopeless. And yet here I stand, 8 years later … filled with hope because of the transformative power of Jesus.
And tonight as I walked out of a youth room that was packed with young people, a new youth worker, and a team of amazing leaders, I knew that a message of hope would continue.
1 Timothy 4:10-12
This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers. Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.