I told myself, and anyone who would listen, that I was NOT doing student ministry (youth group) in Nashville.
Nope. No way. And I’ll go ahead and answer your questions-
No, I’m not burnt out. No, I’m not too old. No, I’m not over it.
Allow me to explain.
I’ve been doing student ministry for 9 1/2 years. It started at East Cobb UMC. Summers 1999 and 2000. Then St. James UMC in Athens. Fall 2000-Spring 2005. Then RiverStone Church. Summer 2005-Summer 2008.
I love it. I always have. I love the messy games, the retreats, the late night conversations, the crushes, the tears, all of it. Middle school. High school. College. Any of them. I wrote a few years ago in my journal that I felt the most alive when I was in ministry to students. And its true. The best parts of my heart beat stronger when I’m hanging out with a bunch of high school girls, sharing about Jesus and recipes and earrings.
But not here. Not in Nashville. Because students are smart and they don’t want you spending time with them for a few months and then bailing. They can smell a short-termer one hundred miles away. Part of loving high school and middle school students is investing in them. Committing to them through a time in their lives that is difficult and challenging…on a good day.
And strewn throughout the state of Georgia are teens that I have loved deeply. Students that I have invested in for years…. and then left. Not with the goal to hurt them, but just because I moved. But students were hurt in the process. I know. They’ve told me.
Sometimes I feel like my exit is far more memorable than my investment. Sometimes I feel like by leaving, I’ve hurt the students more than if I had never come along at all.
And the idea of doing it again scares me to death. The guilt I feel for leaving the East Cobb kids and the St. James kids and the RiverStone kids plagues me. Seriously. Because the last, THE LAST, thing I EVER wanted to do was to hurt any of these students. I adore them. Then I hurt them when God asks me to move. And I wonder, “Do they remember that I was there? Or do they remember that I’m gone?” I’m not afraid of being forgotten. I’m afraid of being remembered for leaving.
I just don’t want to do it again. ESPECIALLY in a place where I feel that I am a temporary resident. I’m the LAST type of person that needs to hang out with the students here. The type of person that isn’t committed to staying.
Ugh. It’s making my throat tighten just writing this.
So……. why is my email address in the Midtown youth director’s iPhone?
To be continued tomorrow…..