Most kids I’ve ever been around are in a hurry to grow up.
They can’t wait to become independent. To make their own decisions. To be the masters of their own destiny and the controllers of their future. To pick their own clothes…their own hairstyles…their own menu…their own curfew. Kids generally can’t wait to get their freedom to go to the movies with friends…their driver’s license…their first job…their own apartment.
And ultimately, they grow up. And they buy cars and houses. They get married and have kids. They get more demanding jobs.
Then the reality of growing up hits. With freedom, comes the dreaded “R” word: Responsibility.
School loans have to be paid off. Better jobs require more time and energy. Children get sick…and need to be fed and have new clothes. Good marriages take time and effort. Lawns need to be mowed. Washing machines need to be fixed. Cars need new timing belts. Houses need foundation repair. Accidents happen. Hospital visits are unavoidable.
And you can’t look around anymore and expect your mom and dad to take care of it.
Yup. You’re a grown up now.
You are now the grown up you were in such a hurry to become. You are now your own master. You are in charge. You answer to nobody and nobody tells you what to do. You pick. You choose. And adulthood is just what everybody told you it was going to be…but you never listened: a mess of responsibility.
There has always been one big reason I loved doing youth ministry. I got to spend my life with kids before they became adults. I got to teach kids while they were still teachable. I got to lead kids who needed to follow. I got to influence kids before they already knew everything. I got to be with kids who accepted challenges, weren’t afraid of taking risks, still believed in the impossible, and were captured by the wonder of a God who really made a difference.
In short, I got to spend my life with people who had yet to be overwhelmed by responsibility, jaded by cynicism, controlled by finances and schedules, fractured by unhealthy relationships, and disappointed by God.
That’s why it has been so easy for me to invest in youth ministry again, for however long it gets to last.
So what has been the greatest joy of spending the past nine years focused on sharing my life with adults? I finally figured out how to love and challenge responsible, overwhelmed, exhausted, controlling, masters of their own world: by helping them remember how to be kids again.
And sometimes it even works.