Heroic Youth Ministry
I have been reading about David’s mighty men recently and I am always blown away by their honor and heroism. If 2 Samuel 23 were made into a movie it would make the movie 300 look like The Blind Side. These warriors of old are not unlike youth workers of today. We are in the trenches fighting the Philistines we imagine look like pastors, parents, students, our own emotions, family stresses, the devil, and life itself. Let me offer this small tidbit to encourage you today.
” Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory.” 2 Samuel 23:11,12
- When the Philistines banded together
We are at disadvantage sometimes. We are the lone voice, right or wrong, in the board room, the parents meeting, the staff meeting, or the network meeting. You have a great idea, a vision, a desire, or a powerful thought, and it seems like everyone is against it. We have been trained to be peacemakers. Jesus extols it but there is a time when we must speak out. Our passion is like fire in our bones. If you are outnumbered, think about scaling back or break your vision into smaller, digestible pieces. We must always remember that our ‘enemies”, real or imagined, are not human. Parents, pastors, or deacons our not our enemies.
“ For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ” Ephesians 6:11,12
It’s easy to use this verse to say that those who oppose us are driven by dark forces. This is not usually the case. Most of the time we are fighting ideologies and philosophies, generational practices and culture itself, and sometimes the enemy is our own hard- headedness. Shammah knew his enemy, and we must discern ours.
- Israel troops fled from them
There will be lonely times in youth ministry. There will be times we stand alone but we are not truly alone; God is with us. We may see our youth leaders flee, our students flee, and even our friends flee. The visions may be too tough to see, they might not see what you see. Some see taking new ground as a very scary thing and they do not feel they can fight whatever boogey men lurk around the corner. The Israelites did not see the point of standing and fighting. Too lessen the fears of those around us, we must paint the picture of a field worth fighting for. Use stories of previous victories and potential victories to build the inner strength of those around you. Some will still flee but some may hear the warriors call and join you.
- But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field
This is where the rubber meets the road. Maybe Shammah was tired of running. Maybe he he was tired of giving up ground. Whatever the reason, he stopped, drew his sword, and said enough is enough. What is your field. What are you tired of running from? Maybe it’s a meeting, a parent, a person of authority, your personal demons, whatever it is, it is exhausting you. We must take our place. Our paychecks come from a church but our calling is from God. My field is young people. I will fight for them against the devil, my own laziness, apathy, the culture and more. I don’t believe Shammah’s fight was short. I believe it took some time. If we fight too hard too early we ill lose steam, our job, and possibly our passion. Fight for the long haul not the short term. In addition, I don’t believe the fight was over lentils. I think there were greater principles in play. Let us not fight for lentils (programs, policies, or privileges) but for the big picture, the spiritual growth of students within the context of the whole church.
- Every victory is the Lord’s
This should not go without saying. There are days we fight and win and take the credit when in reality it was the Lord who did it. When someone changes their mind, takes our side, or helps us push, we must look at it in the larger context of what God is doing. We may win a battle but the war is still raging.
“A song of ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” Psalm 127:1
We are co laborers with God. He sees the architectural blue prints of our youth programs and churches and we must be in tune with His vision. When others laud us for great programs, large crowds, or great ideas we must deflect praise to God.
You are mighty men or women of God. You have a field, defend it, fight for it but not at the expense of scorched earth where the ones we should love get hurt. We are warriors in battle. Don’t give up. If you do not stand, who will? I believe in you but more importantly God believes in you. Go get’em.
Living The Dream - Paul Turner
I’ve written and re-written so may of these, I have decided to try and sum up my ministry in 6 words:
Loves To See Youth Pastors Succeed.
That’s what I’m about. It’s because of my 29 year love affair with God and my 20 year infatuation with youth ministry that I want help you and your youth ministry succeed. Sometimes it takes one good idea, sometimes a few. If I can help you through resources, speaking, or training please do not hesitate to call and ask questions 205-260-7229, tweet me at PaulTurnerToo, or catch me on Facebook.
I've always wanted to be a youth pastor and minster to teens at all levels. Youth pastors, along with camp counselors, have been my heroes. I have been ministering to students now for 20 years and started a free resource sight called The Disciple Project at www.thediscipleproject.net. Come by and say hello.
I live in Birmingham, AL. with my wife and thee great kids, two of which are teenagers.