I blogged yesterday about leaving my job teaching high school and moving into ministry full time. I ended up working in youth ministry for the next 8 years before transitioning into my current role. Similarly to my
departure from academia, I didn't leave youth ministry because I was tired of teenagers. I transitioned to another phase of my development at God's leading. Even as I love what I am doing now there are still some things that I miss about youth ministry. Fortunately, I am blessed to be at a church that highly values summer camp and allows me to continue to lead a week for middle schoolers each summer.
There was one night in particular that encapsulated all that is good about camp & ministry. It was after our Monday night Celebration experience. We had a night swim activity with some of our campers playing games & sports in the field. One of our campers (who had a broken arm) was sitting off to the side and asked if I would play Frisbee with him. We hit the field together and soon ended up with another ten campers joining us with only a few of them actually any good at Frisbee. The best part is that it didn't matter how good they were at it. We were all in community encouraging each other and making sure that everyone had an opportunity to take part in it.
Soon we were all in line for our nighttime canteen and I ended up at the back of the line with a group of guys. These were the same guys who were falling asleep and acting very disinterested in our nighttime worship. We talked about basketball, the golf cart, and the cool trick with flash paper that I had done that night. All of a sudden I had a captive audience of 5-6 young men as I shared how essential it was to be cautious with who you chose to follow. It was the most engaged they had been all night & was the best part of my night in my opinion.
These small things reinforced why I am in ministry. It's the unique times of teaching, the bond forged in simple community, and the opportunity to influence people in small ways. Those are motivating principles regardless of the age group you are called to serve.