I moved into a new office in my church yesterday. I got tired of setting up a temporary office each day, so we cleared some junk out of one of the rooms and I now have a “new office.” As I was reading through some old “Group” magazines to try to find cool things to hang on the wall, I came across a tiny article written by Duffy Robbins that caught my attention.
Duffy says, “Too many of us approach ministry as if we were lifeguards sitting above the adolescent swimming pool, blowing our whistles and yelling safety instructions from a distance….We won’t keep kids from going under by yelling from our chairs high above the pool. We’ll do it by getting into the water with them.”
I couldn’t agree with this more! I have seen and know some youth pastors who basically lead from the sidelines. They see everything and are able to instruct their students (like a coach on the sidelines) but they never actually get into the game (of life…not the board game!) with their students. You can’t build effective relationships this way!
During my interview at my church, one of the questions that were asked of me was, “During a game at youth group, would you stand at the side and watch, or would you jump in and play alongside of the students?” Apparently I gave the right answer (because I got the job…haha), but I didn’t understand this at the time. As I look back on it now, however, I see that they were inquiring of what kind of leader I was. They wanted to know if I would be involved in my students’ lives, and if I would, as Duffy said, “get into the water with them!”
I love being involved in my students’ lives. I love walking through life with them and spending time with them. I am not and cannot be the youth pastor that doesn’t go to students’ events, that doesn’t show interest in their lives. God geared me to be in the trenches of youth ministry. He created me to be the kind of youth pastor who goes through the chaos of life right alongside my students! And for that, I am thankful!