Ministry is hard. There’s no way to sugarcoat that statement. A recent Barna poll found that 38% of U.S. pastors have thought about quitting full-time ministry in the past year. If you work with students, you understand the complexity of your job. On a weekly basis, you try to build healthy, trusting relationships with your students. You give them advice, lead them as they navigate life’s challenges, listen as they voice the problems they’re facing, all while balancing your personal life and cultivating your own relationship with Christ.
Working with students is not for the faint of heart and requires daily energy, compassion, strength, and resilience. There are times when you may feel the urge to quit because you feel like the work you’re doing isn’t making a difference in their lives. You’ll show them the truth, but sometimes they’ll continue to live their lives the same way. We’ve all been there, and it can be discouraging. But if you are remaining faithful in your own spiritual walk while pointing your students to Jesus, we can assure you of this: you are doing better than you think.
You may never fully know the impact you’re having on a student’s life. You may not see the fruit of your labor in this season, but you must believe that the seeds you are planting will take root in their hearts. Hold onto hope that as you press on, God will continue to water the seeds you’re planting and bring the increase in his time.
If there is anyone who knows this well, it would be Paul. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul encouraged Timothy as he continued in his ministry calling. Here are three important lessons we can learn from this letter as we seek to minister to students:
Paul reminded Timothy to stay true to the faith. He knew the blessings, dangers and challenges that accompanied faithfulness to God and his church. Yet, even as Paul faced intense persecution for preaching the Gospel, he still encouraged Timothy to remain faithful. Paul compared the Christian life, and ministry in particular, to the work of a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer because each job requires perseverance in the face of difficult obstacles:
“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory (2 Timothy 2:3-9).
God’s Word is not chained and it will not return void. We must remain faithful and pray that as we serve in ministry, we will find the strength to endure every trial for the students who will personally come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Remain reliant on God
In his last days on earth, Paul reminded Timothy that Jesus was a sufficient source of strength that he would need to rely on as he faithfully served the Church. In the same way that Paul reminded Timothy, we too need to be reminded of the honor and privilege we have in representing Jesus to this broken world and the need to continue in this work. We cannot serve and shepherd God’s children if we are not fully relying on him for wisdom, direction, strength, and love.
In his final words to Timothy, Paul writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Ministry is a fight. It is hard and filled with difficulties, but the reward in the end is going to be worth every tear, prayer, and question. We must remain steadfast in this calling and persevere until we see Jesus face to face.
If God has called you to minister to students in this season, let us remind you again: you are doing better than you think. Ministry can be filled with many challenges and questions, but daily remind yourself of the privilege you have been entrusted with. Remain faithful to Jesus and to his Word, remain reliant on his strength, and remain steadfast as you seek to serve him and his Church.
- Read 2 Timothy in your daily devotional time and ask God for strength as you continue to serve him.
- Remind yourself of the moment you were called to serve Jesus in ministry. You were called on purpose. Just like Timothy, fan into flame the calling you received.
- Check out Feed Lead where you will find a collection of videos designed to equip you and your leaders with helpful tools and innovative approaches to youth ministry.
- Follow us on Instagram @feedyouthministry where you will find encouragement as you continue to serve Jesus and students.
- The Feed Team is available and would love to connect as you seek to make changes in your youth group. Reach out to us at [email protected] to find out how we can partner with and support you in your ministry.