The Saddest Day of My Ministry Career


Ever wanted to curl up in a ball somewhere and cry until you can't cry anymore?

I've had that feeling several times in my ministry career and one day, recently, I experienced one of those times. 

That day was, quite possibly, the saddest day of my ministry career. 

Here's how I came to that conclusion:

I heard a student sharing recently with another teen about how he wanted more of a passion for Christ and for reaching people who don't know him.  Then he proceeded to talk about how much he admired another person's passion and said "I want his passion!"   

As I was hearing this my first thought was "this is exciting. He wants more passion!" 

My next thought nearly killed me inside.   

"Is he having to look elsewhere for an example?" I thought. 

This thought took me back about 10 years.  About 10 years ago is when I received one of the greatest (if not the greatest) compliments of my life.  A fellow pastor told me that he had never met someone who talked about Jesus Christ or had more of a passion for Him than me.  I remember being completely speechless when he said this. 

And now I shudder to think that this pastor would not say the same thing (of me) if he knew me as I am today.  I believe I've lost some of the passion... and, quite arguably, I've grown complacent at times in my faith over the last 10 years.  

This realization rocked me.  

I don't know about you but I don't want the people I lead to have to look elsewhere for an example of Christ. 

A couple months ago I read Paul's words to the Corinthians "Imitate me.  You should imitate me just as I imitate Christ." (1 Cor. 4.16; 1 Cor. 11.1).  When I read this I thought "Paul is definitely on a whole other level than I will EVER be. How in the world could you ever be at a place spiritually that you could say...'Ok, everyone, look at me!  I'm the example'?"  Paul was on a whole other level -- let's be clear.   However, he'd be the first to say that he wasn't without sin (the 'chiefest of sinners', he'd say!)... and that he was encouraging them to follow his example so long as it reflected Christ.  I want to be able to say the same thing.

I want a burning passion for Christ and a passion to reach others who don't know Him. I want the students I lead to not have to look elsewhere for an example... not to the youth pastor down the street, nor the preacher or Jesus-follower from the history books, but the living-breathing-Jesus-freak (named Terrace or "TC" as he's commonly called) that is standing right in front of them! 

So if you were to ask me "What would you say has been the saddest day of your ministry career?" I'd probably reply, "the day I thought that students may have to look elsewhere for an example to follow."

Bottom line:  I'm not where I want to be.  I'm not the example I should be.  And, quite honestly, I'm not okay with that.  Are you?      

7 Responses to “The Saddest Day of My Ministry Career”

  1. # Blogger Ed Blonski

    Hang tough, my brother in Christ.

    Perhaps the student was referring to your passion!

    But regardless, I'm sure that if you are this aware, Christ is right now at work within you to shine brightly in your life.

    Thanks for this post!  

  2. # Blogger Ricky Coleman

    Brotha, we all need this paasion. I to have been struggling with this very thing. Am I like the people Haggai was speaking to? Self centered ,complacent doing what God has called me to do. I encourage you to dive into Gods word daily. Apply it to your life and God will deffintley mold you into what he want you to be and follow him daily.  

  3. # Anonymous Rob Shepherd

    Love this. I love how God can use others to drag us out of complacency.  

  4. # Blogger Ricky Coleman

    Brotha, we all need this paasion. I to have been struggling with this very thing. Am I like the people Haggai was speaking to? Self centered ,complacent doing what God has called me to do. I encourage you to dive into Gods word daily. Apply it to your life and God will deffintley mold you into what he want you to be and follow him daily.  

  5. # Anonymous Mark Matlock

    There was a time more than a decade ago I was at an event seeing hundreds of teens respond to the irresistible grace of God after being exposed to the gospel and I felt nothing.

    I realized somehow I'd become numb and felt joyless when I should be full to the brim. I wondered, "what was wrong with me?"

    It was that question that led me to some really amazing places with God and in ministry. I often describe it as God shooting novocaine into my soul so he could operate on me to take me somewhere new which was not an obvious direction for me.

    When sin is not present, and we feel listless, these moments can drive us closer to Him and mark us indelibly.

    Thanks for being vulnerable, it's good to know we aren't the only ones to ever experience these feelings.  

  6. # OpenID abramkj

    These are good words, and I need this same passion. In declaring your need for it, you inspire me and others to the same.

    One concern, though: if taken too far, I could see this being more youth pastor-centric than is good for a young person's spiritual growth. Why not have youth looking elsewhere (in addition to you?) for examples of passion? I would hope they could--if the youth pastor down the street (with whom I hope we are partnering in the Gospel) has passion that inspires your youth, praise God. And I sure would hope "the preacher or Jesus-follower from the history books" would inspired passion, too. Or even the old lady in the back pew, with whom I would pray we are seeking to connect youth. In fact, one of the best thing we as youth ministers can do is expose youth to this great cloud of witnesses, witnessing with our own passion, yes, but also introducing them to the passion of countless others.  

  7. # Anonymous Karen

    I agree with Abrahamkj. Just because the young person in your ministry was talking about someone else's passion that should not bother you. First and foremost, as youth leaders, we need to be pointing our youth to follow Christ, not us. However, we know that our youth need examples in their Christian life.

    I've been a youth minister for over 30 years, and a long time ago I had to accept the reality that I cannot be everything that my youth need as an example. Some of my youth are going to resonate with everything I say and do. Others will not connect with me in the same way. As a youth minister, I want there to be other Godly adults around that they CAN connect with, and who CAN be role models for them. When this occurs, I think I am more successful as a youth minister, not less.

    I do admire your willingness to look deep within yourself and determine if your passion for Christ has waned. If so, you know where to turn to work on that.  

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