I watched as students entered the room looking for something. It was a crowed area with students and adult volunteers, but many of the students searched as if they were looking for treasure, with purpose and excitement. Each one ended their search at the same spot, the student pastor. I was surprised at how many students were looking for him, and then I saw… it. It was something that I had seen before and had even experienced in some of the ministries I had the privilege to pastor.
It is something that eludes many pastors and church leaders, and attempts are continuously made to "get" it. It is a connection, passion, interest and expression of loving the ministry God calls you to and sharing that love with people. This student pastor had it, and the students knew it. I saw high-fives, arm hugs, full hugs, small talk, longer conversations, eye contact and much more. It was exciting to witness.
I have many friends who over the years have confessed to not having it and no desire to get it. They have a direction, goal and plans to get there… it only slows them down. They have used student ministry as a "stepping stone" to gain the experience necessary to transition to lead/sr. pastors. Don't get me wrong, I love it when my friends follow the call of God to lead a church and assume the role of lead pastor. However, I do not agree with paying dues and "putting in your time" with students. Many times this hurts a student ministry and undoes much of the good that has taken place. The pain of student ministry transitions and the lack of consistency in this ministry area make parents and students skeptics. Sorry, this is another blog for another time... moving on.
Through the years I have had the privilege to speak with many students at conferences, retreats, and camps about their student pastor. In my opinion (and it doesn't mean much) the majority of the students struggling in church ministries are those that are desperately looking for their student pastor to have it, and they don't. Students are crying out for someone to love, accept, encourage and engage them.
If you don't have it and you love the ministry you have been called to, don't worry there’s hope. The hope you have is in the body of Christ and the gifts that God gives each of us. Begin to surround yourself with people who have the gifts you don't. Look to them for leadership in the it areas, and do what you can to learn from theml.
Don't settle on being a good pastor, be a good student pastor!