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Redman: Make a Difference
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Earlier in the week I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed when I stumbled across an article that subjected 12 types of horrible youth pastors you will find in churches today. Since pastoring youth is something I do on a daily basis, naturally I was curious to read. The article started off amusing as the writer ripped into the youth pastor who is too competitive and always having sports in his program.  Another youth pastor is drumming everything up into an excitement and hype to lure students in. He harped on what he called, “More Degrees than Fahrenheit,” describing the youth pastor who “uses too much Greek” in his lessons. There were nine others that this writer came up with, so he kept on going. He was having a field day on this topic. After my self-examination, I found myself intermingled amongst several of the horrible youth pastor character traits that he considered flaws.

Needless to say, shortly after the opening paragraph, my amusement turned to concernment. This person has obviously had some bad experiences with youth ministry. I am aware, however, that bad experiences happen in youth ministries frequently. On the contrary, these character traits that the writer burned at the stake were not necessarily bad traits at all. From the ones I have mentioned, it is not bad to involve sports, it is not horrible to be excited about things and it definitely isn’t wrong to teach students things about the Bible that dig deeper than the surface. So what is the real problem?

The problem is, the writer has taken his focus point off of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and has approached character type as character flaw and has provided a slant to the truth. Furthermore, the writer did not offer any solutions or positive pastoring traits to off-set the negativity.  As a youth pastor, I know that it is important for me to walk daily with Christ, seeking His guidance on the many aspects of my role.  As far as the flaws mentioned by the writer, the solution may simply be that of moderation.  As we all know, too much of a good thing can sometimes become a bad thing.  If we have balance in the areas of competitive sports, in depth teaching, times of excitement and times for serious prayer and discussions, we can develop a well-rounded youth ministry. 

I am not writing this article to defend myself, or even to defend other youth pastors. I am writing this article to bring attention to the common slant that is set against those who stand for Jesus, and for those who intend to make a difference. I am also writing this article in hopes to be an encouragement for those who are actively serving the Lord.

The cultural mindset we see becoming considerably popular is that Christians can’t seem to do anything right.  People will choose those who believe in Jesus and will point out their flaws in effort to undermine the believer’s character. We must remember that usually when this occurs, the attack is against God and His Word, not us.  They are often angry at God and therefore are angry with those who serve Him.

1st John 3:13-14 tells us, “Do not marvel if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.”

We need to understand that we can be the most outstanding person, handle situations as good as possible, and love people until our heart bursts, but we will still be a target for those who burn against our faith. More so, we will also be subjected to the fury of the critics formed under our leadership. When you serve Jesus, you make the dearest of friends, as well as the darkest of enemies.

2nd Timothy 4: 2 says, “Preach the word! Be ready in and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” This Scripture makes it clear that we need to construct with criticism, not destruct with it. It is necessary to rebuke, as it is also necessary to correct. More importantly, we need to exhort, which means to encourage. We need to live a life of encouragement to others, even when others discourage us. Relationships with people involve construction and hard work.

The slants that we hear against Christian believers will leave us second guessing about how we live and how we think, and critics will come after those who strive to make a difference.

But God is our refuge, and our source of strength. Our Father is our protector, and Jesus is our cause. Who can stand against our God? Who can compete with His work and His will? The Holy Spirit is our Helper. We need to fully thrust ourselves into the comfort and peace of the God who created us with a purpose, who sacrificed Himself because of love, and who will redeem us for eternity.

 I hope that you continue forward in your ministries, and keep moving on to greater things and broader horizons. Please don’t give up, and don’t listen to the false accusations against you. Keep going! Make a difference. Change lives in the name of Jesus. One day we will all get to celebrate together, forever.

Stay encouraged, and God bless.

Isaac Redman is a 22-year-old youth pastor at Pleasant Grove Church. He is a servant of Christ and loves music and the outdoors