Growing up, my imagination and my dreams formed just like any other kid. Every time I saw a plane, I was ecstatic about becoming a pilot. After my house caught fire, I wanted to be a fireman. When I heard stories of police officers saving lives and watched movies of them administering justice, it only made sense that I wanted to join the force. Not too long after, on a national level, joining the military reached the forefront of my mind. Each idea having to do with making a difference, changing lives and having an adventure.
Quickly, the childhood dreams turned from administering justice and saving lives to a dream of someday working in the corporate world. Thoughts of college and things to come after became overwhelming. Maybe a job as an accountant, or psychiatrist, or even join my father as a lawyer! (My father would be proud). Still, the idea of changing lives and making a difference never left my mind. Soon after high school though, I got plugged into ministry in an incredible way, and with the help of mentors and the heart God had given me, becoming a youth pastor made sense. As a child, it was something I never thought I would do.
Not too long ago, I went out for coffee with someone that had a ton of questions around the church and about youth ministry. They have a heart for ministry, but he wasn’t too sure about the role someone in the corporate world should play in partnering and in serving. Like this guy, many people’s reaction to and thoughts of youth ministry are focused around the assumption that we teach, train and grow our students to become the next best pastor or to graduate from a Christian college and work for a large church or non-profit organization.
Before I give an answer, or my two cents, around this subject, I tend to think back on something that always stuck with me. It was watching my father work as pastor AND as a lawyer. Through the many years of observing, my mind was blown when it became clear that the reality was my father could make more of a difference in this world as a lawyer than as a pastor. He worked diligently and hard to administer the life of Christ in both of these worlds, but, God knew what he was doing we He placed the “right” profession on my father’s heart.
This is one of many examples that I use to explain my dream for youth ministry. It is to create a culture where we teach, train and grow our students to live out Micah 6:8 and John 13:34-35 no matter where they are and no matter what they’re doing. We’ve always heard that God calls everyone to be a pastor; whether you are literally the pastor of a church, or sitting in a cubicle next to 100 other employees. As pastors, we need to teach, train and grow the next generation to live like Christ and to make a difference in any job that God has for them, because 99 times out of 100, they’ll be living out what they dreamed as a child or whatever it is that God is calling them to in the corporate world.
The way I see it … If we are only living missionally inside the church, then it wouldn’t be living missionally.