When I was a youth pastor, I used to tell my interns, "Don't expect a lot of "thank yous" from teenagers...it just ain't gonna happen. And don't base your effectiveness totally on what you see from the kids you pastor...cause they are teenagers and are gonna do goofy teenager stuff. The reward, I would tell them, will come years later down the road when you see the kind of Christian they have become. And every great once-in-a-while, one of them might say "thank you for what you did way back then." Every great once-in-a-while.
Well, this week, I got to experience one of those rare moments...and it made my entire day! I was sitting at my desk this week, and the following IM popped up:
Hey PR, I just wanted to tell you that you were the bestest Youth Pastor ever. Even though sometimes I wanted to smack you, but I guess that’s normal when you are a teenager. I learned a lot from you and all your lessons. I always enjoyed coming to youth and being a part. Even when you made us talk to strangers and give them water and I was scared, I’m still glad I did it. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the help of your ladder sermons. Even though they were embarrassing and I didn’t know what some of the things on it meant and was too scared to ask, I still kept those lessons to heart growing up. I know that they helped me to become the woman I am today and I appreciate it even more now that I am a married woman. Your teaching was second in my life only to my own parents teach.
It has been encouraging (and funny at times!) to watch Vivienne (she said I could use her name) grow up from children's church, come through youth group when I was youth pastor, and then on into married adulthood staying faithful to the Lord through the whole time. It's why I invest in people's lives. Vivienne is a fine young lady, and I'm thankful to have had a part in encouraging her to be the Christian she is today.