Student ministry is not exactly what you would call a project-driven job most of the time. Instead, it’s filled with ongoing relationships that will never see fulfillment. Why? Because we will never be holy until we get to heaven. Like many others, I started in student ministry because I really enjoyed connecting with teenagers. Over the years, however, I’ve realized that I often feel the need to place myself in situations where I can work with my hands and do an actual project. The main reason for this is due to my personal desire to see end-results.
My most recent project was installing a new stereo in my car. This was not terribly difficult for me, but it was great to turn a bunch of parts and materials into a working car stereo an hour or so later. It looks nice and clean, and I really enjoy having the additional features of my new stereo.
In a job filled with projects that are never done — students who are always growing in their relationships with God — it is easy to feel down. Further, some students are tough, and you may work with them for years and years before you actually see progress. Maybe some of them don’t ever show growth while they are a part of your ministry. Yes, there are some students who seem to grow in their relationship with God all the time, but there are other times when you don’t have anyone like that. That’s not always your fault, either. Some students are just hard eggs to crack.
These are the times when I seek out something within the church or home that I can do with my hands. Sometimes this involves fixing a computer or a network issue. Other times, it is as simple as cleaning a room or closet. Maybe it even looks like cooking dinner or washing my car. The point is that I need times when I can see end-results. I need times when I feel I have actually accomplished something. Sure, I know that I’m accomplishing things within ministry. Rather, I know God is accomplishing things through me. Nonetheless, I don’t always see any physical evidence right away. It might take days, months, or even years to see fruit from my labor. With many hands-on projects, you can see a result after you have completed a series of steps.
Personally, I don’t think this is wrong. Yes, my heart is still there for student ministry, and I don’t feel God calling me into a different job. The truth is that sometimes I want to see progress faster than I do. In order to see that, it helps to fix something, make something, or clean something. I get my “fix,” and I move on, able to focus again on ministry.
To all you ministry people, do you find yourself in a similar situation? What are some examples of projects you do? Or, do you have another way of getting through the slow times of growth in ministry?