There are a lot of words in the English language that many people can’t stand hearing. Some of them are just weird sounding words like “moist” while others have become offensive for one reason or another. Many of these offensive words happen to have only four letters. Why four letters? I’m not exactly sure, but perhaps shorter words are easier to exclaim emphatically, thus making them more powerful and offensive. I would give you a list of examples, but I promise you that they would not make it through editing or doctrinal review, so I’m not even going to try. Many of these four letter words are, or at least used to be, censored on TV. But there is one four letter word that has never been censored, but that Americans can’t stand hearing more than almost any of the rest of them. That legendary word is, wait for it…”wait.”
We not only hate waiting, we are also really bad at it. As a culture, we are so used to getting things as soon as we want them. If you’re hungry, you can go to the store or fast food restaurant and get food right away. If you need to contact someone, they are an instant away through phone, text, e-mail, Skype, SnapChat, Facebook or any number of different instant communication options. If you want to buy something, but can’t afford it, there’s no need to wait because you can just put it on your credit card and pay for it later. If waiting was an Olympic sport, the U.S. would get dead last, but only for one Olympic games because we wouldn’t be able to stand waiting four years until the next one.
What’s the problem with waiting? Why do we hate it so much? It’s because we believe that whatever we are waiting for will satisfy us. We get into a “when I have that, then things will be okay” mentality. So in the meantime, while we’re waiting, we are unsatisfied. Waiting becomes a period of time where we are unfulfilled, impatient and incomplete. So we try our very best to decrease that waiting time, because it is uncomfortable. The biggest problem with waiting is that whatever we were waiting for never fulfills us. We are never completely satisfied whenever the waiting period is over, and so we find something else that we think will satisfy us, and the cycle of waiting continues.
There is also a lot of waiting involved in youth ministry. For me, it’s waiting for a new space. We are in the process of building a new sanctuary, and when that is done, we will finally have a large designated youth space for our Wednesday night gatherings. We’ll finally be able to have small group discussions around tables, use the gym for indoor activities in the winter and have enough time to be able to fit in more stuff each week. It’s really easy for me to think that things will be so much better and ministry will be easier when we have that space, as if that space and those new capabilities are what will transform people’s lives. None of those things are bad, in fact they will serve as a benefit to the ministry. But when they become my source of satisfaction rather than Christ, then they become a problem. I have everything I need in Christ. My youth have everything they need in Christ. My ministry (which is actually His ministry) has everything it needs in Christ. Jesus plus nothing equals everything. That’s the math of the Kingdom of God. Those additions to our capabilities at church are not the solution to my problems, Christ is!
So what are you waiting for in your ministry? What is it that you are looking forward to that will take you to the “next step” with your group? I can almost guarantee that whatever that is will be a great addition for you and is in itself a good thing. But we need to confess for the times where those good things become ultimate things, for when they become our instruments of “success” in ministry instead of Christ. We don’t need to wait for a new space to have a great ministry, because we already have a great God. We don’t need to wait for an increased budget to create a program that impacts lives, because we have a generous God who pours out His gifts that change hearts. We don’t have to wait for winter to be done so that we can go outside and play games to build the group relationally, because we serve a God who has called us together as the body of Christ and builds and strengthens our relationships based on His love for us. We don’t have to wait to be satisfied, because Jesus has come and He gives us life and life abundantly. Instead of waiting for tomorrow to be better than today, we can rejoice that this is the day that the Lord has made for us to be glad in serving our neighbors.