Being in full-time student ministry can be a dangerous thing. Sure, there are great benefits in seeing students come to know Jesus and equipping students to live a Gospel-centered life, but there are some risks involved in student ministry. Not just student ministry, but in any full-ministry position you may find yourself in.
One of the dangers I have had to continually guard against is allowing student ministry, instead of who I am in Christ, to become my identity. Let me explain, I am guilty of allowing what I do on a weekly basis with students and everything else in between to become my identity.
Recently, God has put me in a season where I believe He is trying to break me of this sin; yes allowing anything other than who you are in Christ to become your identity is sin. In the past few months I have transitioned from a student ministries position at one church to another student ministries position at a different church. At my former church, I was the guy. I was hired to be the student pastor of students from 7th-12th grades. I did everything from training leaders, ministering to parents, preparing events, planning weekly mid-week gatherings, and teaching God’s Word every week. I was doing what the typical student pastor does. The problem is it started to steal my identity. It stole most of my time, energy, and devotion. I’ll be transparent and say that Christ started to take a backseat to my ministry. Then God moved me from that position to a new church with a somewhat different position, at least for a season.
I am now serving at a new church and I love it! It’s a multi-site church meaning I am not the only student ministry guy. I am one student ministry guy at one campus, alongside a few other guys at other campuses. Now here is where God’s pruning season, at least the way I see it, starts. For this year my campus’s students combine with another campus for mid-week gatherings and most events. We do have our own small groups for our campus’s students though! What this means for me is that I am not doing what I was doing before. I am not planning mid-week gatherings and a ton of events. I am more so partnering with other student ministry guys at the campus we combine with and helping them wherever they need me. I have a lot less planning, teaching, and being the guy in charge. Am I complaining and whining? I hope not, because I believe God has placed me in this situation for a reason.
A year from now, Lord willing, our campus will be doing our own mid-week gatherings and doing more stuff. I will be back into the former role that I was used to and love. So what do I do until then? I believe I need to do what God put me in this season to do, to learn how to place Christ before student ministry and to let my identity rest in Him, not what I do week in and week out with students. God has placed me in this season to learn servant leadership as well as to better equip me for the future and for what He will do through our campus’s student ministry next year!
What about you? Is student ministry stealing your time, energy, and devotion? It’s a demanding ministry, but when it steals what you should be giving to Christ it becomes extremely dangerous. Allow God to teach you what He is teaching me. Your identity is in Christ, not ministry.