I know that being in the day to day, week by week grind of ministering to teenagers we often think about the work that we need to get done and the kids that need our attention. In our flurry of activity we have fires to put out, events to promote, miscommunications to straighten out, and Rectors to report to. On our best days, weeks and even months we are doing well to invest some precious time with the author of creation and refresh our souls. In hectic times we often forsake time with the Lord of our work because we are too busy working for the Lord.
When do we take time to reproduce ourselves? Do you remember the Michael Keaton film “Multiplicity”? In a desperate desire to be a better employee, father, and husband, Keaton decides to have himself cloned. As I watched the film, amid lots of laughs, I could identify with the desire to be able to do more with the precious little time we have on earth. As youth ministers, we ought to be cloning ourselves. Not so that we don’t have to do the work that God has called us to, but rather so that more youth can be reached, more can hear the gospel and more can experience the benefit of having a relationship with an adult who will guide them through the waves of adolescent spirituality. Holding on to the precious ministry that God has entrusted to us is not the masters plan for evangelism or discipleship. The plan is that we would be imitators of Christ and spur others to do the same. God’s desire is for us to reproduce ourselves in such a way that others will not only follow Christ but that they will become leaders in the kingdom. We ought to be raising up youth leaders who will minister to youth in the way that we already are doing. Consider how Paul sent Timothy to the church in Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 4:17 he writes “For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.”
I enjoyed a few meals in Tampa at the YS convention with people that had been part of the youth ministry I led near Chicago years back. Inevitably the conversations reflected on the people who were part of our youth ministry who are now in ministry themselves. We talked about Tracey and Jill who are in seminary; Laura and Chris in college ministry; Brian, Dave, Melvin, Nancy, and David in full time youth ministry and loads of others are volunteer youth leaders. It was deeply moving to reflect together on what God had done over the years in all these people’s lives! I doubt my experience is all that unique. I am sure that many youth ministers have those conversations but it seems that this does not all happen by accident. It is by investing ourselves in the lives of potential leaders that we see real reproduction take place.
Are you reproducing yourselves or are you too busy doing the work of the lord to even think about sending out leaders like Paul sent Timothy? Who are the Timothy characters in your life? Do you need to make time to bring others alongside of you where you can teach them to be ministers to students? We will not grow the kingdom by addition but rather by multiplication!
Serving Christ together,
Written by Dave Wright, Coordinator for Youth Ministries in the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina