Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we knew where we were headed? Sure, like many people, you’ve probably made some long term goals and have a path of sorts you hope your life journey takes you. Maybe you’ve even gone the extra mile and met with a life coach who has helped you learn more about yourself than you know what to do with.
Because I’ve been in youth ministry for quite a while, I’m often asked what it takes to last in ministry…how did I get where I am? Honest answer: I don’t know! I had no idea when I began ministry as a junior high pastor back in 1988 that I’d still be doing it….and enjoying it!
The reality is none of us really know where we’re headed. Sure, we make our plans, but God often times has plans of His own that you could have never predicted (P.S. They are ALWAYS better than your plans). I try not to make promises because I’ve been guilty of breaking far too many in the past, but I’d like to make one here: Your life will not turn out the way you’ve planned. I promise. Money-back guarantee.
Discouraged? Don’t be! Remember this: When you don’t know where you’re headed, Remember…God knows where he’s taking you! Your future is in His very capable hands, and he has amazing plans for it.
But what do you do in the meantime? What do you do on your road to where you don’t know you’re headed? How do you get to where you don’t even know you’re going?
Embrace The Ambiguity
I’ve discovered something over the years. Humans seem to crave clarity and God seems incredibly comfortable not providing it. Pick your favorite person in Scripture and reread their story. Odds are it is chuck full of ambiguity and uncertainty. Embrace the ambiguity of life. Hug it out with the uncertainty you encounter on a daily basis. Might as well, because it’s here to stay.
Persevere Through Adversity
Think about your favorite bible character again. Not only was their life marked with ambiguity, but I’d be willing to bet there was a fair amount of adversity, too! Ministry is tough. There’s adversity with parents, with students, with volunteers, with other staff members and with the church janitor….and that’s all just on Sunday!
When I’m asked how I’ve lasted in youth ministry, my typical answer is a fairly simple one: I refuse to quit. When ministry has felt brutally tough, I’ve refused to quit. I’m not an awesome youth pastor, but I’m a stubborn one! On your way to where you don’t know you’re going there will be times you have to dig in your heels and simply persevere through the adversity of the moment, minute, month or year.
Rest In His Authority
I love this verse from Job’s life; a life marked by a season of tremendous ambiguity and adversity.
“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2
God is the ultimate authority for where your life and ministry are headed. The creator of the universe; the one who knit you together in your mother’s womb, spoke calm to a raging sea and raised Himself from the dead has a plan and purpose for your life, and nothing can thwart it. Like Job, it may be valuable to simply rest in your heavenly Father’s authority from time to time.
Life is a journey. Throw youth ministry into the mix and things get bonkers in a hurry. There’s simply no way to accurately chart your course.
You, my friends, are on a road to God knows where! But remember….God knows where!
KURT JOHNSTON is a long-time youth ministry veteran who leads the student ministry teams at Saddleback Church which consists of 14 Southern California and 4 international campuses. When he’s not doing churchy stuff, Kurt likes to hang out with his family, surf and sit by campfires.