... as a Youth Minister.
This weekend, I took 42 teens on a Confirmation retreat. They are preparing to receive this awesome sacrament in a few weeks. The teens had a jam packed weekend full of great speakers, 2 great bon fires complete with the fixings for smores, and plenty of free time to explore the woods or have a game of tackle football.
This weekend I was reminded why I love what I get to do and how important it is. Not every young person is probably going to walk away on fire with love for Jesus and their Catholic faith, and I get that, but my job is to help plants the seeds of "desire" to know and have a personal relationship with Jesus. And I was blessed to get some glimpses of the seeds of faith being planted in the hearts of the young church I get to work with. So this weekend caused me to reflect on some of the best parts of my job.
So what are the best part of being a Youth Minister???
1. Praying with young people....so powerful. so important. On Saturday night, we had an evening prayer experience with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (as Catholics we believe that the bread is truly the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ...it is really the most AWESOME thing of being Catholic...don't believe me, read John 6 in the Bible:) and teens also had the opportunity to go to Confession and be prayed with for anything they wanted. I prayed over young people who want prayer for their friends considering suicide, lost family members, and each of them to have a living, passionate relationship with Jesus. We hugged and cried, listened and learned. Prayer is the spiritual dynamite to a living relationship with God, and the more I work with young people I am reminded how important is to take time and pray with and for them.
2. Seeing young people become strong Christian leaders and witnesses...I was ooberly blessed to have one of our current youth leaders and one of our graduated youth leaders come and help on our retreat this weekend. They are both strong, on fire, and vibrant witnesses of what it means to be a Catholic Christian. I watched them lead prayer among the whole group. I watched one of them pray over one of the teens on retreat. I watched them play hard and pray even harder with the teens. One of the young ladies on the retreat came up to me on Sunday and shared how she was really impressed with one of those 2 youth leaders. That youth leader was comfortable enough to talk about Jesus/their faith and love God but still be a fun kind of person to be around...she said watching that youth leader reminded her that it is possible to love Jesus and have fun. I am SO proud when I see young people step up and out in the world as joyful, authentic Catholics; not because it is about something that I did, but its all about the power of God at work in their life, transforming them more and more to be who he has called them to be.
3. Sharing my own personal walk with Jesus...I think it is so important for teens to hear the faith journey's of other trusted adults; it helps them make sense of their own relationship with God and gives them support and encouragement. After we got home from the retreat on Sunday, I was crazy enough to still have a Youth group meeting (even though I realistically had a total of 6 hours of sleep this entire past weekend:). We watched an AMAZING movie, "To Save a Life...check out the trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o56pazEh-Q. It is a powerful movie that addresses many of the modern issues facing young people today...after the movie we had some great discussion and it also gave me an opportunity to share some of my faith journey with the teens. I just LOVE sharing my LOVE of Jesus and all things Catholic (I embrace my Catholic geekness ;).
4. Just having good ol' fashioned fun together...One of the many things I love about young people is their crazy energy and excitement for life and having fun. Just as I am always on the look-out for an opportunity to share Christ with them, I also look for ways to just have fun and celebrate life with them. Whether its a crazy icebreaker involving Cheeto's and shaving cream or enjoying trip to the cider mill/corn maze/hay ride place (which we will be doing this Saturday:), its just as important to have a well balanced dose of fun to go with all the Jesus-y stuff:).
Now of course as with any job, there are the days I question if I even am making a difference or if what I'm doing even matters in the scheme of things. There are times when the hours are crazy long and the piles on my desk never seems to grow any smaller...
...but after weekends like this I'm reminded once again of the great privilege and blessing it is to work with the young church. :)