Lori leaned in close with her elbows on my desk and said something very peculiar.
“Just think about how different your life would be if you weren’t a pastor.”
I wasn’t upset that she proposed it. I guess I’ve just never taken time to think about what would be different. So I did.
Here are just a few things I came up with that would be different about me
if I was not a Student Pastor:
1. I WOULD HAVE MOSTLY FREE EVENINGS AND WEEKENDS
The time and preparation that go into running a student ministry is exhausting.
It is a job that never sleeps.
It is a job that follows you home.
It is a calling that keeps you up at night and on your knees in the morning.
It is a calling that is about people and relationships.
It requires extra time in order to grow and flourish and it requires prayer and preparation in order to align with God’s heart.
There are many nights where I want to come home from working 40 hours at my secular job and just read a book with a cup of tea, or go for a walk, or work on my writing. But it rarely happens.
My free times quickly becomes just plain ol’ time.
2. I WOULD HAVE A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE
There are some things that never change.
And the food that shows up when students are together is one of those things.
There will always be pizza. There will always be chips.
And if you are part of Pursuit Student Ministries there will always be Oreo’s.
I realized that about 40% of my diet consists of Hot-N-Ready Pizza and stale Doritos.
To say I’m not beach-body ready would be a major understatement.
I also recently realized that I have taken part in more all-nighters in my two years of Student Ministry than I did in the first 22 years of my life.
(That’s right, I made it through college without a single one).
And on the nights when I actually go to sleep, I’m usually up and working on a series or preparing an event before the Matrix has even begun to form the roads outside of my front door.
3. I WOULD FACE LESS SCRUTINY
At some point in ministry most pastors feel the pressure of either being in the spotlight,
under a microscope,
or on a pedestal.
There is something so tiring and uneasy about all three places.
Non-believers are holding their breath waiting for you to make a mistake.
To misquote scripture. To get frustrated with a co-worker. To get caught in a lie.
Believers are on the edge of their pews waiting for you to slip up to.
To wear jeans on a Sunday morning. To have family struggles.
To admit that you don’t like Toby Mac and that you thought the movie Fireproof was cheesy.
This kind of critical observation has a way of tearing people down.
4. I WOULD HAVE A MORE MATURE VOCABULARY
There are words that I have entered my brain when in the presence of teenagers that will not go away. Bro.
And these are just a few.
I realized I had a problem when I heard myself ask a co-worker if he was salty after missing out on the last cup of coffee in the break room. There’s no taking that one back (bro).
MOST IMPORTANTLY –
5. I WOULD BE AN EMPTY SHELL OF THE PERSON I AM TODAY
Are the first 4 things (and dozens more) difficult and draining parts of what I do? Absolutely.
But here is why it doesn’t matter:
Regardless of how much effort, sacrifice, time, or change something may require of me,
I know that these things have made me who I am.
I know that our students, past and present, have made me who I am.
I’ve learned that if you are fulfilling your purpose,
the blood, sweat, and tears are ALWAYS worth it.
So, no matter who you are,
whether you are a believer or not,
whether you have a job or not,
whether you feel able or not,
Do the thing that makes it worth it.
Even if it seems foolish to other people,
Even if it takes up your free time and your free energy,
Even if there are times that you question whether you can handle it without breaking…
Do the one thing that makes it all worth it.