In honor of everyone else’s brilliance, we thought it might be fun to share the most un-brilliant things we’ve done in youth ministry. We’re limiting the list to 10, but we could easily turn this into a multi-part series. Heck, we might even be able to categorize by the liturgical calendar if we could get organized enough to find a pen.
- Left a student behind. His name was Michael. We really liked him; there have been a few students we wouldn’t have cried over if we left them behind. This event led us to establish the “make sure you have everyone on your list before you drive away” protocol. Best of all, Michael never noticed we were gone, and his dad never found out.
- Left a chaperone behind. His name is David. We really liked him too. We were in Alaska, and he switched vehicles. I thought David was with Steve; Steve thought David was with me. We were both wrong, and it only took us 27 miles to realize it – the distance from Seward, Alaska to the Exit Glacier Nature Center.
- Water ballooned the police car of the town patrolman who was also a deacon. The most beautiful part of this experience is the astounding difference in volume between a water balloon hitting the asphalt and a water balloon hitting the metal roof of a police cruiser. The most ugly part of this experience was the deacon’s meeting the following week. But we’re still not sorry.
- Packed 13 students in a minivan. In our defense, the parents of the students watched us load up the seats, floor, and trunk, and never said anything. We find it particularly ironic that we were heading to a live performance of “Heaven’s Gates – Hell’s Flames.”
- Took students to a live performance of “Heaven’s Gates – Hell’s Flames.” Need we say more?
- Organized a mashed potato wrestling night. This idea seemed great in the planning stages. The “Aha … uh oh” moment happened when two girls volunteered to wrestle, and the looks on the guys’ faces told us we just made every adolescent boy’s dream come true. The silver lining: we originally planned to use Jell-O, but we didn’t have enough refrigerator space to hold enough Jell-O to fill that kiddie pool.
- Jump off a 30-foot cliff in Puerto Rico with our students. The missionary made it sound so romantic, and the students were super excited. We almost pulled the plug when Nate slipped as he was walking out on the limb of the Ceiba tree and almost fell 12 feet to the “low cliff” shelf below. We did call it quits when Andrew didn’t jump out far enough and ended up with a back full of scratches from the thorn bushes growing into the side of the cliff. (In case I’m not describing this well, Andrew was so close to crashing into the cliff – literally inches – that he felt the flora and fauna growing from the cliff wall.)
- Let the negativity of one parent take away our passion for students. It’s inevitable that as soon as you get back from the most recent life-changing student ministry trip, an angry parent shares their opinion about something that you should have done differently. Fight the urge to focus on the critic’s voice, and instead hear the voice of Jesus telling you, “Great job!” and, “I think fart contests are funny too!”
- Allow our ministry calendar to take priority over our family calendar. We still haven’t figured out the delicate balance of saying no to good things so we can say yes to the best things. We still struggle during busy seasons. And we still pray that we love our kids well so they’ll love Jesus well. You can do it.
- Allow the grind of ministry to create distance between us and God. If we’re teaching in the weekend and midweek gatherings and maybe leading another lesson for children’s ministry, we could be prepping for three messages in one week. Surely that’s enough Bible study, even for a pastor! Don’t make our mistake and substitute lesson preparation for the nurturing of our own souls. That’s the definition of un-brilliant.
What are your most un-brilliant moments? Are you brave enough to share them in the comments below?
What do you think?