So why do you do this?
Why do you do a job that deals with teenagers? Why do you do a job with so little job security/pay? Why do you do a job that requires irregular hours, sometimes 24/7? Why do you do a job that makes some people wonder about you sometimes?
My first reaction when I’m asked these kinds of questions is usually “Beats the hell out of me”. If I’m really honest I don’t like working. I’d much rather play golf, ride my bike, read a book, walk in the woods, snuggle up with my lady wife, just about ANYTHING other than work.
It’s not a job without a downside. First there’s that whole work thing again. Second there are plenty of people who believe they know what needs to be done a whole lot better than I do. Money is a problem. I’m forced to do things I’m profoundly uncomfortable doing. Like talking about money. Or confronting people. Or failing.
Failure is not only an option it’s inevitable. Not every event will work. Not every lesson will get through. Not every young person will make the right choices. That last one is the hardest to deal with for me. No, that’s not right. The hardest part for me is that very often I don’t ever know if I’ve failed or not. It is the nature of ministry with young people that you don’t always see the product of the seed you plant. At 18 or so they’re gone. I see them occasionally but usually for just a moment. A quick hug and a hello. That seed may rest in them for 10 minutes or 10 years before it blooms. And that’s hard.
Of course when I’d doing the parts of my job I like I don’t consider it work.
Work is budgets, committees, phone calls, meetings, details, mass mailings, paperwork in all forms.
The work isn’t why I do this. I do this because of all the rest.
Why do I do this? Because:
I happen to like teenagers. And for reasons I don’t completely understand, they seem to like me.
I’ve never worked “for the money”. If I have enough to pay the bills with a little left over to go out with my family and friends then I have enough. I went for years and couldn’t tell you exactly how much I made. I couldn’t tell you right now how much I make. I make enough. And that’s enough.
The hours balance out. My schedule is flexible so if I work long hours today I can work short hours tomorrow.
Hell, people been wonderin’ about me for years! I’ve stopped worrying about it.
I can make a difference. Maybe it’s an ego thing, I don’t know. But all my life I’ve wanted to make a difference. Just for one person, or for a thousand. I spent 19+ years working as a radio DJ at 5 different radio stations in three different towns. Based on the reactions of my audience and my sponsors I was pretty good. What I did on the air was something of value. Today I get the chance to do something important. Working with some fabulous adults and teens I help to create the chance for young people to grow in their faith. To provide them with tools to help them find their way on their own life and faith journeys. A journey that can lead them to fully becoming the person God created them to be.
I believe this is where God wants me to be. I’m not sure I know why. I’m not sure that I have all the tools I need. I’m not sure I’m smart enough or spiritual enough or whatever enough. But I am sure this is where I’m supposed to be right now, struggling, failing, succeeding and struggling some more. An explanation was never promised, just an opportunity.
I do this because of the joy that comes with the sorrow, the questions that come with the answers, reward that comes with the work. I do this because I can do no other.