In the past couple of months, I have been challenged in ways that I didn’t think would ever be possible. However, that isn’t even the strangest part. The person that has been bringing those challenges my way is what has been the most surprising.
As a youth minister, it is easy to fall into complacency within your faith. It’s not something that happens because we want it to, but we can become very wrapped up in ministry. In fact, we can become so immersed with what we are doing for the teens that we forget to step out of our own comfort zones to allow ourselves to be challenged. We may be doing the right things such as going to Mass, spending time in prayer, attending bible studies, seeing a Spiritual Director, etc. The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Am I growing in my faith or stuck at a standstill?”
I’ve been forced to answer this question recently for myself. It’s not something that someone has asked me specifically, but it has come about in an indirect way. The truth is I’ve been stuck at a standstill. As much as it makes me squirm to admit it, it has been my reality. As I write this now, it hasn’t even been 24 hours since I have been brought to this realization. It hit me as I was asked one simple and honest question from a young man that God continues to speak through to me.
“Doesn’t it drive you crazy that I always look at things more logically than you?
That must get annoying.”
My immediate response, “I let you do that.”
Was I being truthful? No.
Did he know that? Yes.
Does it drive me crazy? Absolutely!!
Then I finally saw something that I had been so blind to every other time he has made more sense than I have. The teens that I get to know through our parish continue to come and go as they enter – then graduate from high school. The pressures they encounter are the same for the most part, but they are much more intense than they were just a couple of years ago. The common theme here is change. Teens change, the intensity of the pressures change, and the world changes.
Now what about me? Have I changed? Has the way I approach teens and minister to them changed? Has my relationship with Christ changed? Talk about getting pulled out of my comfort zone for what seems to be the millionth time in the past couple of months.
In all honesty, I appreciate the fact that someone is being real with me and not allowing me to continue to be at a comfortable standstill in my faith. It is a challenge for me to grow as a person and in my relationship with Christ. It is a challenge for me to allow Him to be my one true strength and to work through me in ministry.
As I think about all this, it’s crazy to see that all of this has come from one simple question that I was asked. It also leads me to this. For some time now, I have been feeling the Holy Spirit rising in the teens at our parish. God has great and glorious plans for them. I know this. I’ve heard it in my heart. Now I also know that I am being called into those plans. I’m not quite sure how, but I will patiently, uncomfortably wait for that to be revealed in His time. For now, I’m accepting the challenge to grow as a child of God. It’s going to be a fun ride! I better hold on tight!