What do you do when life comes creeping to a halt? Having been full-time in my new youth/music position at Mambrino for a month now, I am mostly done with all of the office set-up and routine establishment. Unlike youth ministry in the big church where I grew up, things actually slow down in our small church during summertime. A lot of my students come from broken homes and spend large portions of the summer in other cities with other parents. Others head off for month-long vacations to distant places and still other just don’t feel like getting out much during the summer…which leaves just me. I am finishing up my third year as youth minister at Mambrino Baptist Church in Granbury, Texas—an hour south of Fort Worth.
Neither the gig nor the group is new to me, but this summer is different. For the first time I am full-time, living in Granbury, driving in to the church office every day of the week. I’ve gotten some consistent study done and made some contacts with youth here and there, but it is not enough. There has to be more to this. And there is.
One thing I’ve learned about being in the ministry I learned well during my four years of seminary (which graciously came to an end in May): Daily, even hour-by-hour, fellowship with God is of far greater importance and exponentially greater difficulty to maintain in the ministry than in regular Christian life. Seminary is preparation for ministry to follow. And yet I think the enemy may look at seminary as his time of preparation for his future ministers as well. Destroy a seminarian’s faith in God and what do you get upon graduation? A person with a Master’s degree he won’t be using. However, sidetrack the seminarian to the point of alienating him from God, and what do you get upon graduation? A burned-out, worn-out person looking for work in church leadership. Put this person in a church somewhere to minister and what do you get? Another burned-out pastor, student minister, music minister, or education minister of little use to God and potential great use to the enemy. What greater pawns does the enemy possess than burned-out ministers? The most essential qualities of a pastor are not fluency in Greek and Hebrew and the ability to speak in ways that make people want to listen. Not at all. The most essential qualities are clean hands, a pure heart, and an unshakable faith—all of these together lived out in a consecrated, disciplined life.
For me, during the slow months of July and August at Mambrino, I hope to re-establish these things as the top priorities in my life. “Slow” hinges on one’s vantage point. This can be a summer of Rediscovery and Reawakening for me. And it can be for you as well.