I'm having one of those days in student ministry where I don't have any programming responsibilities or commitments with my students today & yet I woke before the sun was up feeling a heaviness to cover them with prayer. To surrender them one by one to my Father because I feel the burden of their struggles and of being a teenager and know that there's no way I can protect them from the pain of this world. A heaviness in knowing all I can do is surrender them in prayer & strive to lead a ministry that points them to Jesus.
Days like today are an honor. Their faces fill my heart & my mind. So much to thank God for in the gift of each of them. Days like today are also hard. It's a reminder of the type of calling student ministry is and the weight of opportunity it brings to further the Kingdom.
I ended up at the gym this morning when I could no longer sleep. As soon as I climbed onto the treadmill I thought about how much I'd rather be back in bed. My God who knows every thought in my head, filled my heart in that instant with this verse: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
Student Ministry. Teenage Years. Growing nearer to Jesus. All of these wonderful and hard gifts are not a sprint. They require perseverance and prayer and surrendering. Heartache doesn't heal overnight, a close walk with the Lord doesn't happen instantly after an alter call & youth groups don't go from 50 to 500 in 3 years…and not on our own accord.
I'm thankful for the reminder on the humbling and hard days that my Father can handle it even when I get tangled up in my own sin of worry and struggle to surrender. That He's designed me for the long haul with Him and He can use a treadmill & an unexpected early morning to help remind me of His care for me and each of the students I'm so honored to know and love.
Stephanie Riebe is one of the student ministries directors at Castleton United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. She’s in her eighth year of full-time student ministry. She loves, road trips, witnessing Jesus transform the life of teenagers, Vera Bradley, mission work, running, and coffee—and not particularly in that order.