We recently had a new seventh grader join our youth group named Caleb. He has a great attitude, he’s smart, and he’s always ready to have a good time. He also happens to be in the group I lead every week, so it’s a blast hanging out with him.
Caleb is a kid who initially is quiet, but, as I’ve come to know him, I”ve seen that once he’s comfortable with you, he’s a ball of energy waiting to be unleashed. haha. I’ve been in youth ministry for about seven years, which is relatively not a long time, but I’m coming to think most students fit the mold of Caleb. I know I was exactly like that when I was his age. I love youth ministry, since it’s a chance for me to minister to students.
A reason why I love youth ministry is seeing students like Caleb come in our youth ministry and making them know that we, as a staff, care about them, love hanging out with them, we’re here for them when they need us, and that they’re just a big deal to us. People can never get enough encouragement. We always could use more.
I don’t know the life situation of the students in our ministry. Some students might have chaotic home lives, while others might get picked on at school by a bully. Or maybe they have a seemingly perfect life, but they’re fighting a secret battle. There’s a thousand reasons why a student might need encouragement. I might not know what is going on in their life, but I do know I should be encouraging them. This is why I love youth ministry, since I love encouraging students.
I’ve done all this with Caleb. And it’s been a blessing to see him go from the new shy kid to now a big part of our group. I’ve also made sure to connect with his mom and joked with her about Caleb’s antics (i.e. screaming in a mic during a group presentation in front of the youth) and I even joked with his older brother, who is also new to the college group.
This past week, after our youth group ended, Caleb pulled me aside and told me he had something for me. I then said that it’s teacher appreciation week and that he wanted to give me a Taco Bell gift card as a thank you for the past several months. I can’t explain how much this meant to me. This is obviously isn’t about the gift card, or even that he likes me, but I’m most happy since I know for a fact that he knows he’s important to me and that’s he’s a big part of our group.
I’ve served in youth ministry for seven years and I’ve meet hundreds of students, but it never gets old seeing students find a home in your ministry. I love when students realize they might have a terrible week, but they know that when they’re with me, they have someone they can talk to about Jesus and problems in their life. They also know that they’re a big deal to me. They might not think much of themselves, but they’re going to be bombarded with encouragement when they walk into my life.
On a recent Sunday, I saw Caleb with his mom, his older brother, and Caleb was wearing dress clothes. He was far away from me, but I yelled at him, “Hey Caleb! You’re looking like a stud!”. He smiled, laughed, and waved at me.
That’s why students are the reason I love youth ministry.