A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending our denomination's annual Youth Worker's Conference. This is the highlight of my year as it is a chance to get away from my current context of ministry, be with dear friends, and be encouraged and inspired in my faith and in my ministry.
And while all of the speakers were incredible, and while the break out seminars were challenging and interesting, I kept wondering what was missing. In the midst of all this great programing and fellowship, my heart was still longing for something more.
My good friend and roommate for the week, Matt Aalseth (also the most brilliant idea factory on earth) brought it home one night as we were debriefing the day.
Of all the questions facing our profession, of all the issues that are surrounding students and their faith development, of all the competencies that we need to grasp in order to do our jobs well, there is one haunting question that really needs to be brought to the forefront, that needs to pressed in on, and that forces us to re-examine everything. That question is simple:
DO YOU LOVE JESUS?
At the end of the day, really this all that matters anyway. It is the question Jesus ask Peter as he sends him into ministry. Do you love me. It is the number one commandment expressed in the Old and New Testament. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. It is our love for Jesus that compels us to follow him, to give up our fleshly desires, to seek his purposes and glory and work for the expansion of His kingdom! Everything hinges on this one question, "Do you love Jesus?"
Your ministry model actually doesn't matter.
Think of the people who have had the most impact on you and your faith. These people are never the masters of program. They aren't even the really cool kids who would let you sit in their car and listen to their music. No, the people who have had the biggest impact in your faith were people who genuinely loved you, but even more so, they genuinely loved Jesus.
It isn't every day that you see someone who actually loves Jesus. Who is passionate about Him and His work. Who speak of Him as a dear friend, a loving savior, and honored Lord. But when you do meet these people, they impact your life, they put flesh and bones to this empty curriculum that we teach week in and week out. People who love Jesus actually are used by God to transform lives and woo others into the Kingdom.
Ok, your ministry model does matter, just not that much.
I am not saying that our models don't work, or that we should do shoddy work. What I am saying is that at the very foundation of everything we do in ministry has to be our own love for Jesus Christ. If our heart for Him has grown weary and tired, or our faith has become old and we are simply going through the motions, then that is all we are really doing, going through the motions.
Your love for Jesus is the best thing you bring to the table in ministry. Your love for Jesus is actually the only thing that really matters. Your love for Jesus must be protected at all cost. Work hard to keep the adulterous desires at bay. Protect your love for Him, invest time and resources into your love for Him, and at the end of the day, it will be your love for Jesus that has the biggest impact in the lives of your students!
With all that being said, as you gear up for another week of ministry, another talk to write, games to lead, contact appointments to schedule, emails to write, parents to calm down, and whatever amazing chaos that also seems to find you ever week; with all of this going on, will you pause and reflect and answer this simple question:
DO YOU LOVE JESUS?