It's easy to get caught up wondering if you are making any impact in youth ministry. It's even easier when you bounce from church to church. I have now been at my current congregation for 2 years. When I first started in ministry, I would never have imagined myself where I am currently-- Fresno California, 30 students, a traditional ministry setting, focusing on "Christian" families, etc. I imagined myself having a youth ministry of 300 at a contemporary mega-church putting on youth ministry programs that were cutting-edge and had a "wow" factor. Over the years my ideas of youth ministry and church changed. I love my 30 students. I love my traditional ministry setting. I love my "Christian" students. I love my role as a spiritual director in their lives-- forming, shaping, framing, languaging them into being-- converting them into true disciples while they convert me as well. This was highlighted for me over the past few weeks as my high school seniors graduate-- hearing the voices of parents who are deeply appreciative of the time I have invested in their kids, seeing students on the cusp of adulthood beaming with delight as I walk into their backyards for their graduation celebrations.
Somewhere, sometime, ministry became ministry for me instead of programming. I am not sure exactly when it happened. I have always had an angst about me regarding consumer church culture. I was even aware of the slow shift in my life. But as I am typing here, I am deeply aware that at some point I became a pastor to my students and families-- not always great, but always there.
My goal is to be a professor. However, I have less anxiety about getting there as quickly as possible the longer I am in this community of Christ followers. I am enjoying my time among these people. Enjoying even though I am not always sure what I am doing. Enjoying even when I have no idea how to form students. Enjoying even when my students stare back at me with a hazy look. I have been called to be a steward, a guide, a pastor. I think it is this enjoying that has helped me to actually pastor rather than perform. 2 years in one community and many more to come.