Married to the Empire

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


The plate on the wall in my kitchen holds a bible verse that I had to remind myself of repeatedly this past summer. I was struggling in my role with the youth group, and admittedly, there were times I felt so overburdened and burnt out that I just wanted to quit. But of course, I didn't. I won't.

It's a calling, but sometimes ministry is hard. Sometimes it feels thankless. It can even feel fruitless at times. And that's where I was this summer, except I think the fruitless part was me.

Psalm 71 has become my new go-to passage in the bible. These two verses specifically stand out to me:

14 But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.

18 Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, O God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your might to all who are to come.

So I'm not old yet, although I'm getting a little gray here and there, but verse 18 hits me like a ton of bricks every time I read it. "...Till I declare your power to the next generation..." That's a big responsibility, and it's one I need to take very seriously.

Once the youth group went back to school, and I could stop playing weekly activities director, my anxiety went away, and I started sleeping well again. A few weeks of recuperation, and I'm ready to get to work again. I'm now stepping into a role I'm more comfortable with: working with our youth singers who lead worship on Sunday nights.

I don't remember if I've mentioned it here or not, but I sing on the praise team at church on Sunday mornings. Singing is my favorite thing to do, next to reading. Our youth singers have been struggling since the girl who used to lead them left for college. I stepped in on Sunday night. In addition to giving them some direction on what to do in their songs, I had a talk with them before we started. I read to them from I Chronicles about the appointment of the singers in the temple. I talked to them about the importance of that job, how the singers even accompanied the Ark of the Covenant. Leading worship music is not a job to be taken lightly, and if it's about ego and being noticed and having everyone think they're amazing, then they're better served going home and just making YouTube videos of themselves. (There's been some competition to be heard on stage, which is why I made that comment. Some crazy harmonies have been making things sound chaotic.)

I think my talk with them made a difference because they really toned things down during worship, and they already sounded a little better. I have some ideas for working with them in the next few weeks. I told them I want them to learn to listen to each other and really work well as a team. I gave them some examples from the adult praise team about ways we work together to make each other sound better. They don't need to worry about people leading out with solos right now. They don't even necessarily need to mess with harmony. They just need to learn to work together. Every one of them has God-given talent, and I just want them to use it to the best of their abilities and to God's glory.

I'm actually excited again about youth work. This feels like a natural fit, unlike trying to coordinate activities. That isn't my gift, but singing is. I think I'm meant to grow myself by teaching others to lead in worship, not just sing.

"Let us not become weary in doing good..."
"...Till I declare your power to the next generation..."
"But as for me, I will always have hope."

I feel renewed.


becky s. said...

I'm so glad to hear you are renewed and refreshed and ready to continue in ministry. I can't remember the verse, but Florence Littauer's book _Silver Boxes_ has a section that reminds me that we will receive reward in heaven for the work here on earth that went unnoticed by others.

Amy Warden said...

Your passion comes through in your post! How draining it is to work from our weakness, and how energizing to work from our strength! I'm still helping with the middle school students at our church. We just hired a new full-time youth pastor this summer, so there's some transition going on - but it's going to be so much better in the long run!