As the year winds down, a comment I regularly hear shows the common misunderstanding of the life of a youth pastor…
“Well, at least the year is done and you can rest up this summer!”
I know the comment comes full of love and encouragement, but as my to-do list for summer trips and fall preparations quickly grows, I cringe a bit each time this comment is made. In a wonderful flip of this conversation, last week as I spoke with an A/C repair tech, it came up that I am a youth pastor. After settling on a repair plan, the technician went on to thank me for the work and ministry, explaining that he sees too many at his own church take the youth pastor for granted. “I will add you to my prayer list tonight and pray for you all summer,” he told me.
As I give thanks for the grace and love shown through strangers, I want to take a moment to offer my own prayer for all youth pastors. For every youth pastor and director who is now stepping into the gap which school will soon leave behind for several months, this prayer is for us.
Life giving and enduring God,
The time has come.
Our volunteers have left for summer vacations
while our youth come seeking summer excitement.
Our Sunday night programs are shifting into week long trips.
Our days of proofing lessons and reminding teachers about Sunday School
are now migraine inducing days of lesson writing
and not-quite (but oh-so-close) guilt inducing calls for teachers for next year.
Instead of planning our youth group schedules,
we are trying to see just how late we can leave for the four-hour drive
and calculate just how much caffeine we will need for the ride.
As we rent yet another van for the youth trip,
give us the wisdom to see how the luggage will fit.
As we refill first aid kits,
remind us of the training we have received
(because we know it is too much to pray that no one gets hurt).
As we send packing lists and final reminders,
give us patience when the kids still forget something.
We are called to a unique, never-ending ministry;
help us to embrace and treasure the chaos.
We are called to an exciting and affirming ministry;
help us to see it’s reflection in our youth.
We are called to a tiring and stressful ministry;
help us to find rest at the end of the day
(or at least a good pair of earplugs).
We are called to be your presence in the lives of these youth;
help us to never lose sight of our place with you.
God, we give thanks for the excitement and energy of the youth we lead.
We give thanks for the dedication and support of the chaperones who stand beside us.
We give thanks for the love which triumphs over annoyance,
filling our hearts at the end of the day.
We know that many do not understand,
we know that many think we are on vacation.
Give us the strength and patience to continue to push,
to continue to love,
to continue to minister,
to continue to lead,
until we finally rest our head on the pillow.
God, we give thanks for our call to this ministry,
but God – we need you to get us through this summer,
because Fall is coming sooner than we would like…
In Christ’s name, who probably forgot his toothbrush as well, we pray.
Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M. Div. ’14)
Transitional Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)