I was reminded again by an email from one of the past members of Faith Baptist Church that the lasting memories of others are one of the rewards of ministry!
Greg sent me this email because he himself experienced that joy of ministry — the lasting memories of others that he had the opportunity to help forge.
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Pastor, I just wanted to share a neat story of how you always taught us that being involved in someone’s life matters and can make a meaningful difference even years later. Sometimes, you may never realize it. At other times, it bubbles to the surface and you get to see and hear it! You may not know at the time what memories you are creating. Nevertheless, they seem to always remember those special times that somehow were important to them at that time in their lives.
Last weekend Devonna and I went to see Dave Pittman about possibly purchasing a car. He’s been a salesman for about 10 years, knows what he is doing, and is trustworthy. As soon as we arrived and saw each other, a big smile broke out on all of our faces. Dave was one of the teens we got to know during our many years of working in the youth ministry alongside Pastor Stiles. That is where the relationship began and what those smiles reflected.
After we finalized the deal, Dave began recalling specific events and situations from those youth group days. He just wanted to let me know how important it was that Devonna and I were his youth leaders and how we always seemed to make time for him.
As you often stated, the teens will long remember your relationship with them, far more than some deep theological lessons you thought were really important. As you said, they will listen and seek to grow just because the leader who is talking to them loves and cares about them. You are so right — youth ministry and those teen years, are about their relationship with the workers and youth pastor.
When he began recalling several events and situations, I was reminded how times and events we might take as just common and ordinary, but were far more than that in the lives of others.“I remember being at your house for hours and you never got tired of us or put a time limit on how long we could stay at your house.”“Remember when Devonna went away for a teachers conference , and you came over my house and we played video games and just hung out . We even went out and bought a hamster and surprised Devonna when she came home.”“Do you remember — I do — when you would just open your house to us teens to stop on over at the drop of a hat and you would barbecue food for us or we would order pizza and just spend time — a lot of time — talking.”As we wrapped up the car deal, he looked at me and said — Thank you for investing in me all these years and always treating him like I mattered.Pastor, he graduated from youth group probably 15 years ago, but he remembered days and events from those critical teen years — and it still was important to him!We were on cloud nine — because Dave’s memories spoke to our hearts about the importance of youth ministry in the lives of teens. We were there to buy a car, but walked away with a far more valuable possession — joy from realizing that working with teens matters. Those teen years matter intensely, and we know that even more after being parents of teenagers!
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Greg and Devonna had the joy of hearing but a small part of the memories of those who were affected by selflessness, by giving time and energy in ways that can only be read by teens as truly caring.  There are many more stories from where these came from, just not presently known, and other memories from others who were also impacted during their teen years.
There is “Joy In Serving Jesus!”
There is joy in serving Jesus
Joy; that triumphs over pain
Fills my heart with heaven’s music
Till I join the glad refrain
- If COVID has caused a loss of volunteers in your ministry or local church, share some of the rewards of ministry — the joy of great memories of those you may never get to hear — and those few times that you do! Perhaps the joy you have, or others have, in serving selflessly and genuinely will spill over to others! Joy in serving Jesus is contagious! While some are immune, those who love and care will “catch it!”