Stop Being the Good Samaritan
Hello, this is my first post here, but I do keep a regular blog on divinecrash.wordpress.com. I currently am a seminary student as well as the Sr. Pastor at a local church and I have been active in some form of youth ministry since 2001. Some of my biggest spiritual influences are Andrew Purves, and Mike Yaconelli and his son Mark.
Hopefully these thoughts will be of encouragement as I try to put into words what I have learned seeing youth grow up and some succeed and some don't.
The parable of the good samaritan, chances are if you are reading this you know the story. If you were to try and fit your job description into one of the characters who would you be? Most youth leaders, directors, pastors, volunteers will tell you they are the samaritan who goes around pulling teens out of ditches and helping them with everything they need at great expense to themselves (How often do you not get reimbursed for that soda you bought your youth while you were talking with them?).
However there is a problem with being the good samaritan, actually several problems.
1. Sometimes the teens want to be in the ditch. Some teens like where they are and no matter how hard we try nothing seems to get them out. No matter how good our programming is or how "cool" and "relevant" to the culture we are those teens want to stay there.
2. We can't get every teen out of the ditch. Sometimes a new youth shows up and we don't say high, because we are dealing with the teenage girls having a crisis of the hour, and as result that new teen never comes back. Or we go on vacation and miss something important or the parents move away or there are just to many kids.
3. Some youth get back in the ditch. I don't understand it. You know the youth. The ones who are the leaders of the group and the ones we spend years pouring into and you know on senior night that they will "make it" and their faith is strong. Then you see them six months later and they have flunked out of college and they spend their time drunk or hung over.
This all leads to some very burned out, broke, tired, and guilty feeling good samaritans.
So then, what if Youth workers were not the good samaritans in the story but what if Jesus was the good samaritan and we were the inn keeper?
What if instead of us trying to pick up everyone out of the ditch we let Jesus save the world, which is what He is good at, and those that Jesus brings to us we take care of with what Jesus has given to us and promised us more of when he returns?
If we do that then suddenly numbers, salary, hours, and our budget, don't matter. All that matters is who Jesus has us taking care of.
Certainly it means we still go out and meet youth and we are still active in the lives of youth. We don't sit behind a desk and wait for a youth to walk in but it means that every youth we see is not our responsibility to save, they are Jesus' responsibility to save. They are now our responsibility to disciple and take care of until he returns and every time we help a youth or counsel a teen or anything we do it in its proper perspective, as the inn keeper helping out until the REAL good samaritan returns.
This takes a tremendous pressure of our backs because we no longer need to try and save every kid, Jesus is working on them in His time, not ours. We no longer need to worry that a teen fell through the cracks because Jesus is already on the other side of those cracks waiting for that teen with open arms.
So then, are you a tired, worn out, exhausted youth worker? Maybe you need to stop trying to be the good samaritan and be the inn keeper who takes care of those Jesus has already put in your life and work on healing them.
At the same time, in your tired, worn out, exhausted shell of a youth worker let Jesus be your good samaritan who pulls you out of the ditch (that ditch of "gotta do better, or need a promotion, or Jesus wants me to work harder, or any others) you find yourself in and let him bind your wounds and carry you to a better place where you can be taken care of so that you can rest and heal so you can then be the best inn keeper you can be.
About Rev. BT Gilligan
Hi, thanks for looking for more information on me. My name is BT Gilligan I am a United Methodist Pastor outside of Pittsburgh, PA. I have been doing youth ministry for ten years and I love every second of it. I have a wonderful wife and two wonderful children.
Everything I am and everything I have is because of Jesus it is to Him that I owe all of this.
If you like what you read you are welcome to read my personal blog at www.divinecrash.com where you can find access to my sermons and my non-youth ministry thoughts.
I am also available for speaking engagements, if you would like to arrange that please email me at email@example.com or use the contact page on my blog.