Feet are dirty, and so is youth ministry…
Now that you’re confused, you’ll have to finish reading!
I write this past midnight after a very busy day, when I should be finishing up a Methodism Polity project, but here we go…
If you know me, you know that I have dreamed of being a youth minister since I was about 13. Back then, I saw youth ministry as this fun, exciting thing that I got to do twice a week. When I felt a call to ministry, I thought that I was signing on to eventually have the most fun and exciting job there is! To an extent, that is still true. I love my job, and it is fun and exciting.
Although, more times than not, I picture youth ministry a lot like John 13. If you haven’t guessed yet, that is the chapter where Jesus washes His disciples’ feet. Now, I have experienced foot-washing services before, and I can tell you that they are the most humbling and Spirit-filled experiences I have ever had, but that’s not why it reminds me of youth ministry…
Feet are dirty. Especially back then, when the roads were all dirt and animal poo, and people literally walked through their own sewage streams. Yet Jesus knelt down and washed those feet. Not one or two… but dozens of nasty, stinky feet.
I thought youth ministry would be all about planning the best trips, being the most exciting youth minister, and having the funnest games. But that is so far from the truth.
Youth ministry is dirty. Youth ministry is experiencing grief with a student who just lost a loved one. Youth ministry is being a friend to a 15 year old who just found out she is pregnant. Youth ministry is sitting on the pavement of a parking lot, counseling a student with suicidal thoughts. And sometimes, youth ministry is going to Waffle House at 11pm with a student who can’t go home.
This all goes doubly for those in volunteer youth ministry. The laity of the Church is the life of the Church. As a youth minister, having even one that is willing to experience that grief, be that friend, counsel, and go to Waffle House alongside you is a gift immeasurable by earthly gains. In OUR ministry, we are blessed to have many such volunteer leaders.
I am blessed beyond dreams to be in the role God called me. I am grateful to have a powerful team of “feet washers.” I am humbled to be placed at the dirty feet of those who need to be served.
As I quickly approach my seminary graduation, I am reflecting more and more on where I was, what I’ve learned, and who I’ve become.
Did I think youth ministry would be like this? No.
Would I trade it for anything? Never.
Jesus didn’t have to wash those feet. God-incarnate did not have to stoop down to the level of a servant. He did… so I will.
Feet are dirty… and so is youth ministry.
The Center for Youth Ministry Training (CYMT) recently received a $1.19MM grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., to fund the next phase of the Innovation Laboratory. The grant will enable CYMT to strengthen the Innovation Lab by building on what we learned from our original cohorts and tweaking our process and strategy for greater impact.
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