The surprise blessings of ministry
When I signed up to be a youth leader in 1989, I looked forward to enjoying the camaraderie of group ministry, and the fun of ministering alongside my youth minister.
Part of the role involved running a mid-week Bible study for the guys under my care. I would spend an hour and a half with them eating, laughing, praying and studying God's word.
It was rarely a burden. I regularly looked forward to the opportunity to enjoy the company of these younger teenagers, and the fact that I was only six years older than them meant that I still enjoyed hanging out with them as younger 'mates'.
However, I experienced one of the greatest blessings of my youth ministry last week, twenty years after I started leading that Bible study.
I met for coffee with one of the guys from that group. He's now older, married, and since that time has grown into a keen-Christian man who is eager to grow in his knowledge and love of God. He's active in service in his church, and is studying theology part-time.
During our chat last week, he asked me how he could pray for me. He spoke to me as a peer, and encouraged me in my Christian life. He asked me about how I was going in my personal Bible reading and prayer, and how I was growing as a Christian.
I had been feeling discouraged in some ways. I was disappointed that I'd already broken my New Years' Resolutions to read a thousand chapters of the Bible every day and to spend hours a day in prayer.
Yet, my mate encouraged me, and prayed for me at that time.
As an overly-enthusiastic youth leader, I never thought of the blessing that my investment in those boys would return in decades to come. Yet, here God used this youth group 'kid' to encourage his 'old' leader.
Jesus was certainly right when he said that it is more blessed to give than to receive.