Last week, I received a call in my office from a youth pastor at one of the area churches. He was calling to let me know that he’s trying to get all the student ministry leaders together in the area each week. The purpose of these get-togethers is to encourage one another, share ideas, talk about joys and frustrations, pray for one another and help unite the local churches in the area of youth ministry. I can honestly say that this phone call was an answer to prayer. The area of the state I am serving in is not a DCE rich territory, so I do not have a circuit or DCE cluster group or anything like that to be a part of. I have a wonderful family, friends and congregation, but it really is nice to have a support system that is working in the same field as you and can relate to what’s going on because they’ve been there, too. I had assumed that I just wouldn’t have that for my internship experience, other than long distance support from the other interns. Let’s file it as “Exhibit 8,234,588” under “God’s plans are so much better than my plans.”
This reminds me of the popular verse in Proverbs: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17). So, who’s sharpening you? Not who’s sharpening your ideas, your programs or your ministry, but who’s sharpening you? It’s important to turn to other people for advice, ideas or words of affirmation. We as the body of Christ need to be doing these things for one another. But we also need to be challenging one another and encouraging one another spiritually. Who in your life asks you how your relationship with God is going? Who prays for your spiritual well-being? Who asks what you’ve been learning about in God’s Word? If you have a group of people that is the answer to these questions, take a moment right now and praise God for them. If not, I would suggest making that a priority in your life. Don’t delay, because it is dangerous trying to go through ministry alone in this area. Pray for God to put people in your life who will sharpen you personally and spiritually, not just professionally (though that is really important, as well). Sometimes God will put new people in your life who can be that for you, like He did me, but I think most of the time they’re already there.
As you’re looking for this support system, please don’t fall into the trap that they are there only to serve you. You will drain them, wear them out and push them away. You need to also be seeking to serve those people, to sharpen them and to support them. Pouring into others is truly one of the most rewarding parts of ministry and will help you as much as anything others can do for you. Remember to support your support system. When that happens, everyone is benefited. Isn’t it great how the body of Christ works? It looks like God set it up that way because He wants what’s best for us. So follow His plan, but don’t only find a support system. Be the support system for others, too.
Published October 2013