Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm looking for "my Jenni"

8 years and many moons ago, when I started doing youth ministry; I had no idea what I was doing. Like NO idea. I was excited about being used by God and I wanted to help out in our church, so I said yes. I started teaching Sunday School and then over time I also began teaching on Wednesday Nights. I read everything about youth ministry that I could get my hands on...and I prayed..a LOT. (I think that So, not knowing what I was doing with a youth ministry that grew from 12 to 60 in a few months, I began to notice that there were 1 or 2 students who really seemed to "get it" and wanted to grow. 1 of them, Erica, was consistently at church and was excited about what we were doing and was excited about growing and learning. She was not wrapped up in herself or anyone else. She had friends, Christians and non-Christians, but her closest friends were Christians. Erica also began to care about those students who weren't Christians, and who were younger than herself; in contrast to the students who were annoyed with the younger "lost' kids. I LOVED being around Erica; she was a student (and was only 6 years younger than me-now most of my students are 16 years but she was also a friend. She had a GREAT sense of humor, self-worth/identity based on Christ and she used her gifts and talents (or strived to at least) to honor God. She had a child-like (NOT immature or childish, but child-like, the way Jesus said was needed) faith. I invested and mentored her, though I had no idea that that's what I was doing at the time. I loved on her and discipled her as best as I knew how...hoping in the long run, it would make a difference. I was only at her church for a little over a year, but I spent as much time with her as possible, and I hated leaving her.

So, we moved to Arlington to a smmmaaallll church with a youth group of about, oh, FOUR kids. lol Way different. I felt called there and looked forward to seeing what God was already doing and what He wanted to do with this group of kids. There were 2 girls who came consistantly at this time, and so I began to pray about "how to disciple and mentor them." Except, I still didn't know those terms...All I kept thinking was, "There's no Erica here." What was I going to do? These kids acted (hope I don't offend anyone, love you!! lol) like they knew it all and that we had little to offer them (at the time.) And I kept thinking, "There's no Erica here. Neither of these girls are like Erica." Although I did of course miss Erica, I also missed investing and mentoring someone. Of pouring into a student and having them challenge me too. Of feeling like I'm making more of an impact than just teaching a lesson twice a week. One of the girls was a senior and was very busy, so although we spent time together...she just wasn't "my Erica." Other girls had started attending, and I prayed about who I should start investing in...who seemed interested in having me know them better and really challenging them? I kept thinking about Jenni, but she also was so busy! And, for awhile, seemed so content with her faith being the easy answers she offered in Sunday School...I thought I probably annoyed her more than helped her!!! And she wasn't "my Erica."
But, I began to notice things...Like, she had a child-like faith; she was in awe of God and excited about what He was doing in her life and in the lives of others. She had friends that were Christians AND non-Christians. Her self-worth and identity were based on Christ and not on boys or other people/things. She also was already using her talents and gifts to honor God; she was in the praise band. We began to eat lunch together once a week (with 2 other ladies) and we also "hung out' and liked being around each other. Later, we would get together, just she and I at least once a week and go deeper. We'd ask each other hard questions and expect the other to be honest and open up. She became one of my BEST friends. (Who is now also my sister!!) We challenged each other and when she graduated and left for Tech, I literally felt empty and a little despair. I had other adult friends then, but there is something VERY special and irreplaceable about someone you have discipled and poured yourself into. It's like they took a little bit of you with them when you leave each other.

Erica made me a different girl, a different and better Christian and youth minister.
Jenni made me a different girl, a different and better Christian and youth minister.

I'm looking for "my Erica." I'm looking for "my Jenni." Not to replace them, as if you could do such a thing! I am looking for that girl who has a child-like faith. Whose identity and self-worth aren't based on boys or other things/people. Who care about other students in different walks of their faith and who want to use their talents to honor God. Who think that I have something to offer them, and who will challenge me back.
There are several girls that I am discipling, but I need to find my Erica/Jenni girl. Please pray for me; that God will make it clear who this girl is and that I will do whatever's necessary to start and build that relationship.

1 comment:

Jenni Darst said...

Well, I want my Mary...the real one, haha! I love you!