Today, as I walked home from church, I went to place my hands in my pockets and instead discovered them already occupied.
This is one of the joys of youth ministry: emptying pockets at the end of the day and finding spent balloons, candy wrappers, ping-pong balls, drawings scrawled on legal paper, random ideas on the backs of receipts from coffee dates or burrito celebrations... All of these remind me of why I love working with kids.
Reason 1 - They're FUN
No matter what, almost without exception, kids are intent on having fun, practicing sarcasm, pulling practical jokes - just plain enjoying themselves.
Reason 2 - Teaching Truth
Sometimes I think I benefit from the act of teaching as much or more than my kids do from being taught. It's intoxicating to study and pray and meditate on scripture and then share it with others. And I love knowing that although I am not the sharpest pencil in the drawer, we all have learned from God's word.
Reason 3 - They had fun while learning truth
Okay, okay. I know, it's kind of a cop out to combine the two. But seriously, having sat through too many boring lessons, I love it when I know the kids were enjoying a dive into truth. That fun was not divorced from our discussion of God's word. Rather, that the greatest fun is the pleasure of growing in our worship of God and relationship with one other.
Anyways, I love finding ping-pong balls in my pocket. They are mementos to me, symbols of significance, 'stones of remembrance' even.
This is the joy of youth ministry.