I recently read an article that stated how important it was for youth workers to have patience. I immediately thought: “uh-oh, I’m in trouble”. Patience is definitely a virtue I did not receive in plenty. And that truth for me inevitably reveals itself in the month of June when ministry is winding down and I am tired. Tired of endless emails, Facebook messages and events, texts, and phone calls. Tired of organizing, planning, being creative, being interesting…being relevant. Tired of complaints and criticisms. Tired of trying to be everything to everyone and feel like no one notices. My tank is empty and my patience, well, let’s just say it’s being apportioned in miniscule rations as I struggle to reach the finish line without crashing.
The end of the ministry year is often marked with such signs of impatience, discouragement, exhaustion, and dismay. Many of us are worn thin, struggling to keep traveling on this road that twists and curves and brings us through so many unexpected hair-pin turns, stalls, and dead-ends. We wonder if we should continue. We struggle to see the good, the joy, the reward and it’s a challenge to recognize if we are actually making a difference. We question if it’s worth it; we wonder if we are worthy of the call. And we reach a place where our souls are crying out for refreshment; yearning for revival.
If you are in need of restoration, may you find the strength to carry on by trusting in the will of the Lord. Embrace this time intentionally as an extended Sabbath of sorts where you make it a priority to immerse yourself in prayer. Ignatius of Loyola once said, “Everything that one turns in the direction of God is prayer.” No matter what you are feeling – irritation, fear, disinterest, despair, lack of trust in God – share it with Him in prayer. Second, let your mind be occupied with the Word of the Lord. Rediscover His call to you, envelop your soul in His words of love and guidance and assurance. Third, encircle yourself with the people God has put in your life to support and sustain you. Hear God speaking to you through them. Feel His love, compassion, and power. Finally, remember your passion. Be encouraged for you are chosen by God, the great I AM. With boldness carry on; for God did not leave you alone. He will hold you up and give you strength…and patience.
“But as for you, my servant, my chosen one, my friend,
I have called you back from the ends of the earth,
saying, ‘You are my servant.’
For I have chosen you and will not throw you away.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:8-10).
I take time, this season of the year, to remember the accomplishments throughout the past year, even the tiny ones, and the strengths of those leaders that are working alongside me in the ministry. These little bubbles of joy are a reminder of why I have been called to participate with God in youth ministry. The "tank is empty" feeling can hijack us at any point of the year, but sometimes we are our worst enemy as the school year winds down, relationships are seperating and we start to already anticipate what is/may be in store for us in the Fall. Take some time to Praise God for the opportunities that He has given you throughout the past year and experience a renewal of energy.....energy that will welcome in a Summer filled with Rest and Peace.
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