7 Words of Encouragement to All of My Youthworker Friends

We all know the Monday-morning frustrations as youthworkers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re paid or you’re a volunteer. Mondays can be tough.  The weekends are long, usually laced with hours of teaching and other youth events, not to mention family and other obligations.  We’re tired come Monday morning but no matter how tired we are, our jobs still call on us to be there and to get to work. In the midst of the weariness, we can often go through long droughts wondering if we’re having any real impact in the lives of students.  Let’s face it – students don’t offer a lot of gratitude or encouragement all of the time.  We don’t always see a lot of fruit, either.  And I know, that’s not why any of us are in it.  We’re not in this gig because we want praise (at least that better not be the  reason we’re in it!).  But the reality of the weariness, coupled with the lack of fruit (not to even mention the sometimes upset parent or board member) can leave us with a feeling of despair wondering if all of the time and effort are worth it.

Let me offer you seven words on this Monday afternoon: Don’t Stop. Don’t Give Up. Keep Going.

You are making a difference.  You are.

We never know when those notes or words of encouragement will come, or when the light will come on for a student, or when we will catch them “finally” getting it.  But those days will come and I promise you – you won’t want to miss them!

I received a really short email yesterday from a college student that simply made my year and reminded me of exactly what I’ve said above.  It is worth every ounce of energy and time that we pour into students.  You are impacting lives for Christ.  They are hearing you.  They need you in their lives.  Don’t stop. Don’t give up. Keep going.

As a way of encouragement to all of you who labor week in and week out, year after year, ministering to and shepherding students, let me share the note I received.  May it serve as a reminder and an encouragement to you to keep on keeping on.

Hey Rich,

I just wanted to say thank you for being a great teacher. I’m in some Bible studies here on campus and I’m realizing that everything I’m saying in discussion time is stuff that I’ve learned from you through Wednesday nights, ministry team meetings, missions trips, etc. So thanks for how big of an influence you’ve been in my life in preparing me for college and the self-discipline that comes along with that. I miss you and hope everything is going well at AUC!  🙂

Thanks for loving students and serving them!  May God send you reminders this week of the ways in which you’re impacting those you serve.

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Contacting – Being Intentional

One of my team members related this story to me and I wanted to share it with all of you as a reminder of what we do and why.  Afterwards I will comment.

God laid it on my heart the other Sunday that I hadn’t seen a particular student in a few weeks.  Even though that student wasn’t in my small group, on Sunday morning when I woke up around 6:30, I sent them a short text message that simply said, “Missed you. Will you be in Sunday School today?”  A few hours later that student walked into Bible School.  When I saw them and went over to say “hi,” I asked them if they got my text message earlier. They said, “Yes, that’s why I’m here.”

Sending that text message took no more than thirty seconds.  Was it a huge undertaking?  No.  But it did require being intentional.  Contacting isn’t always a huge time commitment, especially not in today’s technological world.  You don’t even need to re-arrange your entire life and schedule around it.  BUT, it does require being intentional.  It is a huge part of shepherding.  We have the unbelievable privilege of speaking into the lives of and sharing our lives with students.  Be intentional and watch the way God uses those small acts to open doors into the lives of kids.