Worth The Wait
Let’s face it, sometimes in student ministry you feel like you are not making much of a difference. You spend hours every week investing in students and you wonder if they ever really are getting it. I know there have been times when I was ready to throw in the towel because students just seem to let what I was sharing go in one ear and out the other. It can be discouraging. It seems like we wait and wait for them to start really acting like they understand what we are trying to help them live.
I thought about that long wait last night as I sat in a high school graduation. I have been around long enough now to have seen one class go from seventh grade through their senior year. It has been a long road. I have watched students make poor relationship choices, struggle with addictions, lose family members, struggle with school, and so many other hard things. This class has been through a lot. At times I wondered if they would make it to graduation and still be serving the Lord.
I have spent many long hours doing my best to invest in these students. Through many trips to camps, mission endeavors and events they have both exceeded expectations and disappointed. In it all I tried to be an example of Christ and His love. I resisted the times I might have wanted to lay out a verbal smackdown and prayed hard before much needed confrontations. I rejoiced with them through a slew of “a-ha” spiritual moments. I stood proud as I watched them serve others.
Discipleship takes time. Sometimes I get inpatient with the process. I want students to become super Christians right away. Last night as I sat through the graduation of one of those long time students, I was overwhelmed with pride as I thought of the strong young men and women of Christ this class has become. Though not all of them are where they need to be, some have grabbed onto a Christian worldview that goes way beyond Christian catch phrases and emotional responses. They have become true Christ followers. This has happened not because of me but because of Christ. It also has not happened in my time but in his.
As I walk alongside this journey with students in ministry, God is also working on me. As I lose my focus and let the craziness that can be student ministry overtake me, I forget that God is still working on me too. Like the students, it takes me a long time to change into the man God wants me to be. I struggle. I am on a journey of completely working out my salvation. Sometimes I take tiny steps, sometimes it is giant leaps. The journey is a lifelong one. It will take a long time.
Some days I sit back and wonder deep in my heart why I keep doing this. Last night God’s whisper in my spirit reminded me why. I love students. I love to see them grow into mature believers. It takes many hours, lots of hurt, and unconditional love and acceptance to see that change in their life. It takes a long time. Last night I was overwhelmed by the phrase the Holy Spirit repeated over to me, “It’s worth the wait”.