There’s a couple of things that I did when I first stepped into youth ministry that I still do today. It’s interesting to think that these “intern duties” can actually be refreshing from time-to-time, and for me, represent a sense of that “first love” in youth ministry. I want to write a couple of posts along this train of thought, simply to illustrate some of the day-to-day duties of a student pastor that may not seem very glamorous. Quite honestly, alot of times you are doing work that you think a janitor or intern should be doing. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find joy in it. Thus, When I Was An Intern.
When I was an intern, one of my primary duties was to stack chairs & set chairs in the youth room of Life Church at Auburndale. There’s an old joke that when you compliment someone on being a “servant leader,” you really mean that you just want them to stack chairs. Even still, it was a perfect way to start my Wednesday morning (setting) and Thursday morning (stacking) with a little worship music to get my groove going. To this day, I still set and stack the chairs for my youth services. This isn’t to say that someone else can’t do it…they certainly could. In fact, students will help me from time-to-time. Because of this I’ve had to let go of some of my OCD tendencies when it comes to symmetrical rows & perfect arcs & 10 wide/6 deep/2 section sets. But I do digress…
The reason I do this otherwise considered intern job isn’t because of a lack of manpower, but because it gives me a simple joy. There’s nothing quite like setting up a room from scratch, praying over every chair that you set down. I’ll even pray that each chair would be filled and even how many should be put out. Sounds weird, I know…but it’s part of my Wednesday routine. I don’t see it as a grind or time-waster for that matter because I really use it to prepare my heart & mind for the service. The next day, when those chairs aren’t perfectly aligned, but covered with mint-wrappers and sticky soda spills under them, is just as great. I’ll reflect on the service and everything that God did the night before. I usually have a mental picture about who sat in which seat, giving me an opportunity to think and pray for them. This might lead to a phone call or even a hangout session the next week. And seriously, some of my best ideas & creativity have come from this seemingly mindless task.
Lastly, it really does bring me back to my early days. During those intern hours, I would dream of what it’d be like to be a full-time student pastor. What would it be like if I could GET to do that? And now, I’m living that dream. I’m walking in the promise that God promised and living in the blessing that I asked for. In those times where it can be frustrating…when you ask yourself, “Why am I do THIS?”…remember your first love. Remember those days where you dreamed big. Don’t let the thing that you used to GET to do become the thing that you now HAVE to do. Live out every task, menial or not, with full & complete joy. Don’t waste those opportunities, but dream with the same boyish hunger & creative foolishness that got you to where you never thought you’d be. And thank God for the calling that he placed you in to begin with. It’ll make stacking those chairs one of the most refreshing times of your week. I promise.