I am a Pastor of a Youth Group and I spend a lot of time finding just the right Mentors for my teens. God brought 2 people into my life over the last 3 years and recently, I have said goodbye to them. They were my Worship Leader and my Youth Director. It’s hard to describe how they deeply affected myself and the teens in our group. I’m going to try.
They were dubbed the “A” Team by the teens simply because their names both started with “A” and you gotta do something on a 6 hr road trip to youth camp.
My Youth Director has a strong personality, much like mine and we would clash at times and to be completely honest she would irritate me at times. That said, I know I had the same affect on her, which we laugh about when we reminisce. I was irritated because she was always 2 steps ahead of me when it came to the teens. She was a true leader and I was supposed to be leading. She always had a big vision for youth and always, without knowing, challenged me to be a better Pastor. She was always planning a series and dreaming of what we could do. She lived and breathed for the teens, prayed for them, wept over them, and spent countless hours counseling them. She would make things special for them…things that I would have never seen or thought were not important. We would spend hours, good hours, planning and talking about our teens. She would help me see new angles, new insights to Scripture. She would share her dreams about the youth group. Big Dreams that sometimes scared me because I am not a dreamer like that.
My Youth Director went through some hard times. Breaking times. Times of excruciating pain and anguish. Their were times she simply sobbed with us because she could do nothing else. She literally lived this Scripture; “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;” 2 Corinthians 4:7-9. She taught me that a person with faith in God can walk through anything and come out stronger. She was crushed and broken and yet through the fragile humanity of being a cracked clay jar the light of God shown through. She walked through those times with dignity and grace. She was a model of Christian character, and again, challenged me to be a better Christian.
Over the past several months she has healed and reached new heights in her relationship with God and understanding of herself. We work together now in a different capacity and I’m pretty sure I have irritated her at least once. Just today we were talking about our personality types and how they interact. My comment was “iron sharpens iron”. Simply being around her has made me a better person.
My Worship Leader, the other “A” in the equation, is a completely different person. When I met her she was quiet, shy, introverted and seemed timid. What she showed me was quite different. She is quiet, shy and introverted but there is nothing timid about this woman. She displayed a deep strength that has propelled her to live for Christ in a way that most people can’t. She has literally counted the cost and has obeyed God’s call and is starting her training to be missionary. We have spent the last week praying with her, saying goodbye and seeing her off on her new journey.
I had the honor and pleasure of watching her grow into ministry. I watched as she found a deep confidence in herself and God. She has a sensitive and graceful spirit about her that God has blessed. She always brought the attitude of a servant and never presumed that she would ever have high status. She always waited until everyone was seated and took the last chair. She lives this Scripture; “Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.” She literally became a servant and gave her life away to God and man. She has a faithful obedience that God honored by forming her into one of the finest Worship Leaders I have ever encountered; because she serves.
She has a gift for presenting Christ though music, a humble grace that invites you into worship. She taught me some things about that grace. She taught me that grace needs to abound in every situation. Her display of grace to everyone convicted me. It unearthed some things in me; feelings and ideas that I didn’t really want to deal with. She taught me to let people in, to love them better, to allow myself to be vulnerable, even allow myself to be hurt because I choose to love. Right now I hurt. This women walked into our church, into our hearts and loved us and we had to say goodbye, until we meet again. That hurts. As we were saying good bye I reminded the teens that she had been serving them and washing their feet for 3 yrs. I asked the teens to say good bye and bless her by literally washing her feet. They jumped at the chance and jostled each other to be first in line. We spent the next 45 minutes taking turns washing her feet and speaking blessings to her. I believe that so many teens were eager to bless her because they see the same things in her that I do. They saw her willingness to be obedient and lead by serving.
My life has been greatly enriched and blessed by her. I will miss her dearly and look forward to seeing her again.
The three of us did ministry together for what felt too short a time. We prayed for teens, lead them, taught them, wept over them, planned for them, baptized them, went to camps and conferences with them and simply loved them. We have seen the fruit of our labor as teens have answered the call to the missions field, worship leading and the pastorate.
Rarely in my life have a been part of team that has had such an impact on my life. Sometimes I want to go back. I want to hold the moment when we were all together. But God is bigger than a moment. He expands those moments to lifetimes. Our team has expanded and is moving on, walking new paths now , affecting new lives and honoring Him best we can. We will come together again, spend time encouraging one a another and continue moving on the paths that God has for us.