I absolutely love it when people come to me and say, “I hear good things are happening in youth ministry” or “The kids really seem to connect with you and the leaders.” I don’t “love it” because I think highly of myself (though I think very highly of my wife and all my volunteers), I love it because there are many, many, many (I think I got them all) nights I go home and wonder, “Did anyone hear a thing I said tonight?” or “Am I doing any good?” Have you ever had one of those days at home with your family, or at work, or even at your church?
When I hear from people that they are hearing things from parents and/or the students, it absolutely stokes my fire. It helps me realize two things: 1. People DO listen (even when we may think they aren’t) and 2. I need to continue to trust the Holy Spirit. So often I get caught in the fact that I need to do A, B and/or C in order for something to work or to show an outcome. It is just how my brain works. Truthfully, it is the encouragement of stories that continue to train my brain to trust in the Holy Spirit to teach, sustain and change people.
I kicked off the fall with a series called “Abracadabra.” I was inspired to create this series from a conference at which the speaker talked about the word abracadabra and its meaning: “What I speak, I create.” Our series talked about how our words and actions do create things, whether good or bad. A few weeks ago during a discussion with some youth over the newest controversy in their lives, we were discussing what and how to respond in this situation. One of the students said, “Just like you said in September. Abracadabra!” I am sure I beamed with joy when he said that.
I am not writing this out of pride for what I have done, but to encourage you that all people, young and old, DO listen. Everyone has a different way of listening, even when it may not seem that they are. We need to be patient and trust that the Holy Spirit is doing what he has promised to do.
Psalm 78:70-72: “He chose his servant David, calling him from the sheep pens. 71 He took David from tending the ewes and lambs and made him the shepherd of Jacob’s descendants — God’s own people, Israel. 72 He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.”
God calls us to care for each other with a “true heart and skillful hands.” This Christmas I encourage you to speak the story of Jesus, this wonderful account of love and redemption, as boldly and as grace-filled as you can. People do listen … even when we don’t think they are. Then trust God.
The writer is the youth pastor at the Sidney First United Methodist Church.