Sometimes Churchy Answers Aren’t Needed

12.9-CompassionSo recently….OK, last night…I was having a crisis of faith.  Actually, not really.  It was more of a pity party.  It’s been a season of hit-after-hit-after-hit….you know the kind I’m talking about.  The weeks where people tell you “God is in control” or ‘All things work together for good” or “God won’t give you anything you can’t handle” or “God will bless your faithfulness”.   And I was just done with it – at least for a short season.  And I wanted to rant and rave and be mad and feel devastated and question God.

I’ve been a pastor for 25 years – and a Christian a lot longer than that.  So I know all the spiritual answers.  Most of them I agree with.  (Except that ‘God won’t give you anything you can’t handle ….not Biblical…and maybe that ‘blessings for faithfulness’ bit….those are posts for another day).  Aaaannnyway….fortunately I have a group of youth ministry friends who embrace it when we are authentically raw.  And none of them….not one….gave me a churchy answer.  They just laughed with me and cried with me and sat with me and prayed for me – albeit virtually – until I was better.  (Maybe because I threatened them if they gave me typical counsel….)

Here’s the thing (and it could be a youth ministry thing, too, I think.)  Sometimes we know the answer BEFORE our heart cries out in pain.  And we aren’t looking for someone to tell us what we already know.  We’re just looking for someone to sit alongside us in our pain, our grief, our crying out, our moment of despair.

I wonder how many teenagers I’ve trod upon with answers when they just needed compassion…..

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10 Things Parents Wish They Heard from Youth Pastors

parentsI grabbed my issue of Group Magazine yesterday and read it cover to cover for the first time in a long time (thank you, electrical outage).  Each issue has a Top 10 list – and this issue was Top 10 Things Youth Pastors Wish They Heard from Parents.  It got me thinking… (smell the smoke)?

Parents hear a lot of stuff from youth workers….sometimes junk they wish they hadn’t heard!  Here are ten things I bet parents wish they heard from youth pastors:

10.   Your kid is awesome – you’re doing a great job with him!

9.  Parenting is tough.  I don’t know how you do it!

8.  They grow out of more than their clothes.  Don’t worry – this will pass.

7.  What can I do for you?

6.  Your kid said something great about you last night and I wanted you to know.

5.  I know things have been tough.  Here’s a scholarship for our next event.

4.  I read this Bible verse and thought of you.  (Just make sure it isn’t ‘Jesus wept’ or something equally ‘communicative’.)

3.  We’d love to have your family over for dinner this week.  How’s Tuesday look for you?

2.  Thank you for allowing me the privilege of speaking into your family’s life.

1.  Can I pray for you?  (And then, actually pray for them….right then.)

I have heard a few of these things from our youth pastor.  I have said a few of these things as the youth pastor.  What would you add to the list?