This Sunday is a big day. This coming Sunday my second child will start going to the Jr High youth group at church. My son has been in youth group for a couple of years now, and now my oldest daughter has also reached youth group age. So starting this coming Sunday, I will officially have 2 kids involved in the Student Ministry!
I have always loved Student Ministry; my youth pastor was one of the biggest influences in my life, I had some incredible experiences and memories from my years in youth group, and for 13 years I was a youth pastor myself…so I have a huge passion for Student Ministry. And because of my love for Student Ministry, I am excited for my daughter to begin this next chapter in her life journey.
While I’m excited, I’m also struggling. I’m not struggling so much with the fact that I’m now old enough to have 2 kids in the Student Ministry, nor am I struggling with being worried that my daughter might not enjoy her experience. Rather, I’m struggling with the reminder that a dream of mine has died. The dream of getting to be my kids’ youth pastor.
When I was 12 (the age of my son and only 1 year older than my oldest daughter) God developed in me a passion for Student Ministry. I knew from the time I was 12 that I wanted to become a Youth Pastor, and I did what was needed to direct my life in that direction. After I graduated from Bible College, I started my first full-time job in Student Ministry, and for 13 years I was living my dream.
When I had kids, another dream developed. The dream that one day I would get to experience youth group with my kids because I would be their youth pastor. They would get to see my passion for Student Ministry first hand by being involved in my ministry, and I would get to watch first hand as the Student Ministry provided them with experiences and memories of their own.
God allowed my dream to die. I’m not blaming him or anything like that, don’t get me wrong here. I just know that God is sovereign over all and ultimately in control, so he knows what will happen and he allows things to happen for a reason…even if we don’t understand those reasons.
When my life took a left turn and I was suddenly thrust into the world of divorce, my life as a youth pastor also came to an end at that time. My son was starting to attend youth group when I stopped being the youth pastor, and that was hard for me because I didn’t get to be my son’s youth pastor. And now 2 years later, I’m being reminded of that feeling again as I watch my daughter start attending youth group.
My dream of being a youth pastor is not dead…I know that. It has just taken a break, but I am still just as passionate about Student Ministry as I was before, and I know that at some point in the future I can be involved in Student Ministry again. So that dream has not died. But the dream of being my kids’ youth pastor has.
It has died because when I do become a youth pastor again, it will be at a different church than the church my kids call their home church and where my kids are involved in the Student Ministry. Even if they occasionally attend my youth group in this scenario, they will do so as visitors and I still won’t be their youth pastor. At best, I will be their dad who is a youth pastor.
So that dream has died. When God chose to not miraculously save my marriage, which I spent countless hours begging him to do, he was allowing my dream of being my kids youth pastor to die.
I also know that God is sovereign and in control, and he has a plan for things that I don’t see or understand. God allows things to happen in our life that we don’t understand, even really difficult and bad things. Yet he does so for a purpose that we don’t know in that moment.
God is at work. God is in control. God has a plan. God is doing things in my life to prepare me for the plans he has for me. I may not always get it or know why…or even be happy about it…but I can still trust that God is at work. I can know that, while my dream might have died, his dreams and plans for me are even greater than my dreams for myself.
Consider Joseph. He had no idea why he went through everything he went through (and man did he go through a lot!), but God had a plan for him that so much bigger than Joseph could have even imagined.
Do I wish I could be my kids’ youth pastor? Yes. It was a dream of mine. But I know that God is faithful and in control, so I can also trust that if he let that dream of mine die, it is because he has a better plan…both for me and for my kids. All I need to do is to continue to trust him and follow where he leads, and I can have full confidence that his plans are greater than any of my dreams.
When God allows our dreams to die, it is because he has something bigger and better planned.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6
But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. – Genesis 50:19-20