We Are So Thankful: Appreciation for Youth Ministers From Parents and Students
One of Rooted’s Five Pillars of Youth Ministry is Partnering with Parents. This Thanksgiving week, we invited parents and youth ministers (along with some wonderful students) to celebrate their partnership in the gospel by expressing gratitude for one another. So here’s to the youth ministers who faithfully teach the Word, sleep in bunk beds on retreats, goof off with teenagers, and point them to the gospel week by week!
Katie Polski, Mother of two daughters and a son in Kirkwood, MO
Dear youth minister, your work is invaluable, and the gratitude we feel for your service is not expressed often enough. So, in this season of thanksgiving, I want to share just some of the reasons we as parents are deeply grateful for your ongoing perseverance in youth ministry.
We are thankful to you for following the Lord’s leading and moving forward with joy into this work. It’s clear that you believe this is a vital ministry and a worthy calling and not just a steppingstone in your ministry path. Thank you for thinking “outside the box” in considering ways to grow this important ministry and for thinking creatively about new ways to love, teach, and mentor our youth.
We are thankful for your willingness to listen to our kids. You listen intentionally, trying to understand their world and their perspective. Because of this, they tend to share openly with you. Thank you for carrying their burdens on many occasions. We are also thankful for your eagerness in listening to us. It’s a tremendous gift to communicate fears, sorrows, questions, and concerns about our teens without feeling judged or belittled. Thank you for the time you give us as parents in prayer and in conversation.
We are thankful for your involvement in the church body outside of youth ministry. Because of this, many have been blessed by you, and our kids have learned by watching your service. Thank you for showing our youth the value and the joy in being a part of the body of Christ.
We are thankful for your love for Jesus. We know that there are many aspects of this calling that are uniquely challenging, and at times wearisome, but your love for Jesus is evident and it overflows onto these kids even when your energy is lacking. Because you love Jesus, you are able to love our kids. For that, we are eternally grateful.
Anna Meade Harris, Mom to three sons in Birmingham, AL
Dear youth ministers, I hardly know what to say, so I will let my actions speak louder than my words: I am so appreciative of the way you have ministered to my sons that I took a job with Rooted to support the work you do! The influence you have had on my sons has been profound. Through serving and learning together with other kids and adult volunteers, my boys learned to love the whole church while they were in youth ministry. Thanks to you and your volunteers, my boys have true friends who are two and three and even four decades older than they are! You taught my sons the true gospel straight from the Bible and never dumbed it down. They learned that the Bible isn’t about them, it’s about God. You called them out when they were being, well, teenage boys. You persevered when they avoided you and you received them back gladly when they were ready. You played hours of basketball and Mafia and gave advice about girls and ate that last cold piece of pizza more times than anyone should ever have to do. Most of all, you have been true big brothers in the faith. You pray for them and encourage them and love them still, even as they are young adults. God has done great work in my sons through each of you. I could not be more grateful.
Becky Paynter, Mom to three adult children and two foster babies in Winston-Salem, NC
Any notion of a youth pastor who is merely biding time until he “moves up the ranks” was erased when we hired our youth pastor for the position at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. He exhibits a rare earnestness in the way he loves students and pursues both them and their families. He doesn’t make it about him, for he also displays an ability to delegate through identifying gifts in others and calling them into service. He trusted my husband and I to teach the High School Equipping Hour class, invited us to join him in prayer, and consistently encouraged our son to step out and lead through involvement in the large group and a close-knit small group. It was a gift to watch our son grow while his youth pastor cheered for and challenged him – and to also recognize our own growth as he did the same for us. This minister now leads many areas in our church, not because it was his goal but because it’s clearly a wise extension of his giftedness.
Emily Zell, junior at Mizzou; Assistant Director, Anchored Passion
To the youth leaders in my life: Thank you. High school is such a scary and confusing time, and it was for me especially when I moved cities before my junior year of high school. Yet somehow, the transition was seamless in leaders taking my spiritual growth seriously no matter where I was. Thank you for fielding my questions and doubts as well as encouraging my passions. Thank you for coming alongside me in my pursuit of theological truths and showing me the beauty that entails. As a youth leader myself now, I know the discouragement one can feel, but please know that your time and prayers are seen and not in vain. Thank you always.
Mac Harris, MDiv student at RTS Charlotte and Assistant Coordinator of Youth and Family Ministries at Hope Community Church, Charlotte NC
To all the youth pastors who helped shape my life: thank you. Thank you for sacrificing so much of your time and energy just to sit with a student who wanted to be shy and stay in the shadows. Thank you for the early morning biscuits and the late night fast food. Thank you for the fun chats, the impossible conversations, and the ones that probably felt like pulling teeth. Thank you for being patient when I didn’t want to be vulnerable, and for being gentle and inviting me to wrestle with the very things I wanted to forget. Thank you for giving me a group to call home, and for giving me someone to look up to and follow. Thank you for the small groups and Sunday school lessons and mission trip experiences, but thank you also for your friendship that has extended beyond 12th grade. Above all, thank you for showing me what it looks like to know and love Jesus, and for inviting me to join you in relationship with Him. Youth ministry is an impossible job if there ever was one, and it can be so hard to see the fruit of your labor, but thank you for not giving up. Thank you for faithfully and relentlessly and graciously sharing and living the Gospel with kids like me who couldn’t yet understand the gift that we had been given. In the most real sense of the word, I’m eternally grateful for you, and hope you feel loved and encouraged in your ministry this Thanksgiving.