Sunsetting your youth ministry career

This last week I was sitting in a meeting with some incredible youth workers from our denomination.  Many of these women and men I have knowns for many years.  And as we were sitting around sharing our lives with each other and praying for each other, I realized that I am witnessing something profound.  Many of my dear friends in student ministry are rounding the last lap in their youth ministry carer.  

Over the years I have had the opportunity to meet with, train, equip, and inspire fellow youth workers.  The highlight of some of the coaching I get to do is walking with brand new youth workers as they navigate the passion and joy of following God's call on their life, and wrestling through the difficult learning curve of vocational ministry.  Walking with younger youth workers has been one of my greatest joys!

But sitting around the circle with some incredible youth ministry veterans, I began to sense a different sort of call and opportunity in my life.  I now have the distinct pleasure of walking with some dear friends as they sunset their youth ministry career.  

Many people I know in youth ministry love student ministry with every fiber of their being.  It turns out there is much more complexity and grieving that goes into this sort of transition than I ever imagined.  I always assumed that there would be much joy and excitement to leave behind the skimpy pay check, the lack of respect, and the thankless hours into greener pastures.  But we all know the grass isn't always greener.  

As I think more about this transition for my friends, and ramble on in this post, I am mostly left with a deep sense of appreciation for my colleagues who have served students and fellow youth workers so well!  I know for them, and maybe for some of you, the transition away from student ministry has been more challenging then expected. 

I am so thankful for you veteran youth workers who are moving on into other areas of leadership.  May God meet you in those places and may you use your gifts for the glory of God.  Selfishly, as someone who always seems to have "2 more years" in student ministry, may you remember how much love, support, care, and grace that students need and even more so, that those who work with students need.  Even as you wrap up this season of ministry, may you always be a champion of student ministry.  

(Sorry for the rambling blog.  I realize that there is nothing profound about any of this, just the personal weight and recognition of how we are always changing, always moving, always growing, and in that there is both joy and grief.  And for me, a little sense of loss as my dear friends move into different areas of ministry.  Thanks for the space to ramble.)