Saturday, February 14, 2004

Just Ramblin'

Jasper Speaks:

Tonight was an unusual Valentine's celebration. Our friends Matt and Sarah invited us out to dinner with them and Sarah's mother Pat. Kendra and I accepted. It is nice to have spur of the moment friends. Plus we love Pat. She is a great encourager.

That brings me to the point of this particular ramble. As we were riding home tonight Pat was telling me about a conversation she had recently had with her husband Jim. Jim is on our elder board. He is a soft spoken man with a very dry sense of humor. He is at first intimidating but you realizre in time he is full of quiet strength. He can be the life of the party but most often keeps silent and observes. In the conversation Pat shared tonight, she told me that Jim had told her that one day recently he was observing me interacting with the students of our church. He told her he was so impressed by how much the student's love for me is very aparent. That along with a more frequent compliment of how well the youth group is growing under my guidance was all she shared.

That short conversation choked me up. Kendra will tell you that I live for the love of students. I don't know that I would go that far but I have to admit that I have struggled when I feel my relationships with the students God has entrusted to my care have been strained. I get depressed and am not better until I am certain I have resolved the conflict and we are all good. Unhealthy as that may be, I believe it is the way God wired me. It is one of the strongest things I bring to the table as a Youth Pastor. Whereas I am not athletic or musical or a great oratator, I am very good at buiding relationships. It is my strength.

This strength however, is not always easy to evaluate from the outside. There have been times in ministry where the group that I am serving is numerically stagnent. There are times when students are not displaying Jesus as I would like. Still it is at some of these moments that God is working deeply in our relationships with one another.

I sense God's pleasure over me as I talk with a kid and we laugh together. I sense His blessing as a student confides his troubles with me. I feel His inspiration as I encourage a student to be a better daughter. There are so many different ways that I realize that God is using my relational gifts to further the Kingdom. However, relationships do not always overwhelm people looking in on our ministries.

So, tonight I have to admit that my Youth Pastor heart smiled to hear that someone has seen God's pleasure, blessing and inspiration in my work. I stop short of pride and reflect on what a great Valentine's gift I was given by a dear friend. It was a gift I am sure she didn't realize she had even given me. But it is also the gift that will give flight to my wings and help me get through another week of late night talks, mid-afternoon tears and countless evenings of laughter that comes with a job I love.

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