2 more years

"How much longer can you keep doing this?"

It seems like I have been getting this question a lot lately.  And by lately, I mean the last ten years.  As someone in their early 20's, student ministry was a great fit.  As I rounded the corner into my 30's I became a respected veteran and expert.  Now that I am in my 40's it just feels a bit awkward to me, and apparently to others.  So, with regular frequency, when I meet with parents, the questions always seems to come up.

"How much longer can you keep doing this?"

The answer is easy.  2 years!

I thought that this was a great answer.  But the more I answered it, the more I was starting to get a similar response, which was, "You say that every two years."  At first I laughed this off, but the more I have thought about it, the more I agree with myself that 2 years is the exact right answer. 

Here is why I have 2 years left of student ministry:

1)  I am called by God to be in student ministry.  This is a fact!  I love student ministry with all my heart.  Every now and then I get the opportunity to teach adult Sunday school, or preach a sermon, or deal with an adult counseling situation.  And while I consider it an honor as part of my job, the truth is, I would die inside if my job consisted of planning small groups, or organizing an adult mission trip.  YUCK!  I am glad some people are called to this, but I am not.  At least not in the next two years.   I think a major change in my calling would come about over time, and two years seams like the right amount of onramp to a vocational change.

2)  I love, love, love my sophomores.  My sophomores are incredible young people who are just now trying to figure out their faith.  The are becoming deep thinkers, and wrestling with difficult topics.  They haven't really started driving which means their parents haven't given up parenting them yet and they still have some boundaries in their life.  This means they haven't jumped off the deep end with sex, drugs, or rock 'n roll.  (Of course some have, but by and large this isn't their culture, yet) 

Sophomores are really similar to babies.  God made babies small and cute, in fact so cute that a mother will love and defend their sweet baby even when their baby is all grown up and has done some pretty terrible things.  Sophomores are just like that.  They are so adorable and amazing, and God uses this season for God to knit our hearts to our students so by they time they are classic teenage troublemakers in their senior year we are already so enamored by them that we can't help but love and advocate for them.  

2 years is what I have left because God has knitted my hearts to these sophomores.  And when they go off the rails and break my heart over the next two years, there will be an entirely new batch of students to grab my heart.  

And if at the end of 2 years my heart has not grown to love this new class of sophomores like my very own babies, or if I actually start enjoying adult Sunday school, then over these next two years my youth ministry career will sunset.  

But for now, 2 more years is what I have left in student ministry.  Even though I have said this for the last 10 years, this is the answer I have said and will continue to say until that sad day is upon me where my answer is this June.  :(

2 years is what I have left.  How many years do you have left?  

May we enjoy our unique call into student ministry as we generously pour out our lives into the students that God has gifted us in our ministry.   And may we be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and go where he leads, into whatever ministry He calls.  But for now, may we love these students right into the Kingdom of God so by God's grace some may actually come to know an love Jesus.