A young man I had a hand in mentoring over the last 10 years asked me a few days ago what he could do to be more effective in his ministry of dealing with students. After 15+ years of student ministry, I’m asked this question often. In fact, this question no doubt drives people to publish books, write blogs, attend seminars and conferences; it’s like we’re all out there trying to finally grasp the proverbial carrot that is dangling and ever-elusive out in front of us. How to maximize our effectiveness!
I responded quickly with this response: love and patience. For good measure, I added, “and a lot of both”!
The more I thought about it, the more proud of myself I was! In a godly way…surprisingly, there is actually a lot of truth to this!
The driving force in any ministry should undoubtedly be love. Love for the lost. And love for those with whom you deal with on a daily/weekly basis! It’s your love for ministry that will help you through days when you don’t really feel like crawling out of bed. It’s your love for the people in your ministry that will motivate you to push and stretch yourself to learn and grow. And finally, it’s your love for individuals (perhaps just for humanity in general) that will empower you to turn the other cheek when you’re despised and rejected by men (yea…I know that happened to Jesus…but it sometimes happens to all of us too)!
And then there is patience. I think of the biblical word “long-suffering”, especially if you’re in the world of student ministry! A 15-passenger van ride with Junior high students, of ANY length of time, can quickly drive a person insane. However, it’s nothing that a good pair of noise-canceling headphones can’t fix! To be quite honest, I think this separates youth workers that THINK they’re called into student ministry, and those that KNOW they are called to student ministry! If you don’t possess patience, or being long-suffering, I highly suggest you make an immediate trip to the nearest youth ministry medical center, and begin treatment for weekly injections.
I used student ministry as a way to illustrate the power of love and patience, however, any time you are dealing with people, and especially if you are concerned with maximizing your effectiveness with them, you MUST possess both of these valuable commodities.