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Missing the Youth Pastor

A little over a year ago, the Blue Team (think senior leadership team—kinda) of our church met for a couple days.  We had an agenda—create a new leadership structure for our church.  Our church had long since outgrown our structure in terms of sheer numbers, and particularly, with having multiple campuses.  We weren’t structured to function as a multi-site church, so we weren’t really functioning as a multi-site church, and we knew that had to change.

We’d spent a couple months preparing for this meeting, we spent a couple days in this meeting, and we spent months editing, editing, and editing the result of this meeting.

Eventually, we completed our structure.  My name appeared in a few bubbles on the org chart:  Student Director, Powhatan Campus Student Coordinator, Online Campus Pastor, and Guide Pastor.  That’s a lot of bubbles.

We agreed I’d move myself out of some of those bubbles over time.  First up—Powhatan Campus Student Coordinator.  It was clear to me and everyone else, that as long as I was leading the student ministry at our largest campus, I would be unable to do the other roles.  It was time for me to move from being the week-to-week practitioner of student ministry to being the coach for other week-to-week practitioners of student ministry across our campuses.  It was time for me to put on my big girl pants, move beyond student ministry, and tackle the second half of our mission statement, “to guide them to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ,” as the Guide Pastor.

Here we are—one year later.

I’ve successfully moved out of the Powhatan Student Coordinator position, and my friend Karen Heinike has successfully moved into that position.  I enjoy having her has a friend, I’m proud of how she’s moved into this role, and I’m excited to see what God has in store for her.

I’m slowly moving into the role of Guide Pastor.  The learning curve is steep.  Starting new initiatives is hard.  Seeing myself, and helping others see me, differently is even harder.  It’s good hard, but it’s still hard.  It’s challenging, but that’s where being competitive is advantageous.  I’ve faced many steep learning curves in my life, mostly in classroom settings, and I’ve climbed to the top of all of them.  Of course, that’s before I was a mom.  Being a mom changes everything, and it’s awesome, but the emotional, mental, and physical energy I once exerted to overcome steep learning curves is energy that now goes to raising and caring for my family.  So, I’m learning how to dig deeper and to work smarter.

And I’m learning to let go.  I was PCC’s first, and until recently, PCC’s only “youth pastor.”  I’m thrilled to share that role now with amazing friends who God is calling to follow him!  But it’s hard to let go of being the youth pastor.  I did my first stint in youth ministry in June 2001.  I know a little bit about how to be the youth pastor.  I don’t know a thing about being the Guide Pastor.  And that’s scary.  And that means I might fail.  And well, we competitive people don’t see that as an option.

A couple weeks ago, I received a text from a former student:  Missing my youth pastor right now.  I’ll never be too old to cherish the love you show all of us. 

I’m missing the youth pastor right now, too.

But then I hear the late Cecil Sherman in my head saying to me, “Don’t put yourself in a youth pastor box.  God has other things in store for you.”

So, this is me getting out of my youth pastor box, that I did indeed put myself in (despite Dr. Sherman’s wise advice).

And, as he would say at the beginning of class, “It’s time for school.”  It’s time to tackle this learning curve, no matter how steep.

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