The youth in my youth family teach me a lot of things. There are the very useful things like how to master the Wii, how to SMS bomb someone, how to have fun, how to fart on demand (okay, I already had that mastered.) They remind me that you can make a difference and that it is never to late to start. They remind me that you can have fun regardless of the task at hand. They remind me to relax and that to be present in someone’s life is more important than designing a stellar program or event. They teach me that selfishness is pervasive and that I once was as awkward and self-conscious as they are and I would be wise to not forget it.
They frustrate me a lot, too. I can’t count how many times we have had a really great discussion or awesome retreat and then in the next breath my youth are treating each other like no class citizens. I love social networking until I read the passive-aggressive status that “wish a certain someone would just get over herself” or “hate it went so-called ‘friends’ ditch you at the last moment for their loser boyfriend”. One can’t helped but feel used when the only time you see or hear from a youth that you’ve cared for is when they need a reference or recommendation or they are having a horrible time in life. But you hang in there with them. Because you love them. Because God strengthens you to love them. And because you are reminded ….
The way my youth behave is how I behave with God. First of all, let it be noted that I’m not comparing myself to God. The comparison here is completely in the way my youth act and respond to someone that loves them and the way I act and respond to Someone who loves me. How many times does God teach me something and I’m totally excited about it and like, ready to live it out 24/7 and then, like, forget it, like, in 24 minus 7. How many times do I acknowledge the debt that God has forgiven me and then turned around and expect a friend, a church member, or a youth to pay up now or pay later with interest. How many times do I run to God only when I need God to fix a problem, calm a worry, answer an unknown, or recommend me to an awesome guy whom He knows really well. Yet God hangs in there with me. Because God loves me and forgives me. Sure, God lets me fall on my face or down the stairs in front of hundreds landing, wisely, at His feet. But He is always waiting at the bottom to pick me up, to brush me off, and walk with me again. And after making sure I’m okay, to rib me until my ego is put into place.
It took me awhile to learn this lesson but it was a lesson well-learned. I’m a better youth pastor for it. By no means perfect but glad that when I get frustrated with my youth, God whispers in my ear, “I know exactly how you feel.”