As I think back over the last 25 years of ministry with students, I am amazed by all that God has done. I think of the students, the activities, the trips, the moments that proved to be life changing, for me and for my students. But for all the memories I remember, I know there are moments that I am forgetting. I wish I had the idea back then to keep a journal.
As a teen in high school, I headed journaling. Did you have to journal for a class? Oh, it was a pain. I wasn't much of a writer then, so trying to come up with enough thoughts to fill a paragraph was a real chore. But now, I wish I had a better habit of journaling, especially knowing how much it would help with remembering the past.
In yesterday's post, So Your Just Getting Started, I shared at the very end of the post the idea of picking up a journal and recording your experiences as a new youth worker in your first year of ministry. The more I thought about it, the more I realized, Hey, I wish I would have kept a journal during those first couple years of ministry!
My first couple of years were littered with trial and error, successes and failures, huge wins, and painful defeats. I experienced a gambit of emotions, wrestled with a lack of confidence and wondered, What have I gotten myself into? At the same time, it was the time of my life as I grew and matured, and found a rhythm and a place in youth ministry.
Record your wins; the things that work, the experiments that turn out to be successful, the moments that produce kingdom fruit. Write down the failures; the mistakes you make, the talk that totally bombed, and the disappointment when all your hard work still fell short of everyone else's expectations.
Write down the names; students who got it, and changed their lives, the leaders who felt insecure and ill-equipped but ended up being your best volunteers, and the parents who doubted you on day one but became your biggest supporter on day 114.
Share the moments you feel alone, abandon by your lead pastor, your team, your students. The moments of sadness and hurt, fear and pain. Record how you see God moving, changing lives, moving people, and growing his kingdom through you!
Youth ministry is hard. Any veteran with 5 years or more will tell you story after story of the struggles and difficulties that come being a youth worker. But, youth ministry is also amazing, and for every story of struggle there is a story of joy!
I wouldn't trade a moment of my career for anything. It has been the greatest adventure I could ever experience. I have been blessed to participate in a ministry that God has used to change peoples lives. And to sit down and catch up with former students, laugh over the memories, and celebrate with their God-stories...well, there's nothing like it. I think it's why I am still in student ministry today.
So go, get a journal. And, begin recording the story that God is writing with you.