Yesterday was a very long and productive day for me. I was at the office for eleven hours and got a lot of work done that has been piling up for quite some time. I was focused and driven. During my lunch break, I went with my Pastor to a luncheon/information seminar that a senior citizens group from my church was sponsoring. The speaker was an ex-cop who is a current Red Cross worker. He was informing everyone on what to do in the face of a disaster (natural disaster, terrorism, viruses (H1N1), etc…). He has been involved in many disasters over the last few decades (Oklahoma City Bombing, Columbine, Hurricane Katrina, The World Trade Center attacks…a.k.a. 9-11, and many more). It was very interesting to hear what he had to say and to hear him speak from experience. He went into great detail about how many cities, places, and organizations in the US have a very poor plan of action for when disasters strike! He referred to these plans as “disaster plans.” He talked about what could have been done differently to save people in the city of New Orleans more effectively. He talked about how when “The Big One” hits (whatever that may be), there are many people that will suffer due to the poor disaster plans that are in place!
This got me thinking: How can I apply this idea to youth ministry? In my experience in youth ministry so far, I can’t even begin to count how many times a student has come to me with a problem or a concern, looking for someone to talk to or for some advice. I’ve taken numerous classes at Nyack that have prepared me for some of the things I’ve run into thus far, but there are just some things that cannot be taught in a classroom setting! I’ve heard some pretty serious things from my students in the past, but I wonder what would happen when they have a problem that I (or my leadership team) have no idea how to deal with! What would happen when “The Big One” hits in one of my student’s lives? Will I be prepared with a disaster plan to adequately help and be there for them? Or will I let the disaster take over that student’s life because my plan was not in existence or perfected and I didn’t know what to do?
There is another set of questions I could be asking as well. Am I the kind of youth pastor and friend that my students will want to go to when disasters hit their lives? Have I built up enough rapport with them that they will be comfortable enough to grant me access into their disasters?
I don’t have any answers right now. In fact, I most likely won’t have the answers until I am faced with a certain situation. What I do know, however, is that I will do everything in my power to get my students through their “Big Ones” that hit them hard! I will be a pastor, a shepherd, a listener, and a friend walking along side of them on their journey through life…disasters and all!