I decided to get a part-time job this summer and make some more income.  Alright so that’s not entirely true.  I make a decent income  doing what I do here at Bethel.  I was asked to umpire behind the plate this summer for our little league games.  Last night was my third game behind the plate.  I’m actually having a lot of fun doing it.  It’s not too stressful and hey and extra couple hundred bucks at the end of the season is alright with me.  I’m thinking of using the extra money to get a new tattoo…maybe start a half sleeve.  Just kidding mom!

I have been reminded of some things about working alongside of parents over the past three games and I think they apply to student ministry as well.  So here there are;

Parents will rip you apart: Unfortunately this goes along with some church parents as well.  i can honestly say that in my first year here at Bethel this hasn’t happened to me yet – but I know it will.  In some ways I welcome it.  I’m not perfect and I make mistakes like everyone else.  Iw ill always be the first one to acknowledge that upfront.  I like constructive criticism.  When a parent comes to rip you apart remember that there is something valid in what they are saying.  Sure maybe not everything is factual or correct but dig through what they said and see where the truth in it is.  I have found that everytime a parent comes to me there is at least 1 small thing to take away from the interaction.   Be loving and generous even in those difficult conversations…you may even win a new fan to your corner.

Be ready to help a student out: While calling balls and strikes behind the plate I am able to help ‘coach’ (in a limited capacity) the kids from both teams whether they are at bat or playing a position on the field.  I am working with 1st-6th graders so I am reminded that i have to be gentle with them and do my best to help make them better students of baseball – it’s a huge learning process.  The same is true in student ministry.  We are here to help our students along and soemtimes even call balls (close calls) and strikes (pointing out times when they are blatantly not following Christ).  It gets ugly but we need to do so lovingly.  It’s our job to come alongside of the parents and help them coach their students through their faith.  Just like, as the umpire, it’s not my job to coach the kids on my own but to help the coaches help their teams abide by the rules in the book – so it goes with us as youth pastor’s/ leaders.

Humble pie: I have made some questionable calls in my first 3 games – there is no doubt about it.  Some of the coaches and parents have let me know as well.  I have ate some humble pie over a few of my calls – but I let the call stand.  When is the last time you had to eat a good ‘ole piece of humble pie in ministry?  I bet it was pretty bitter and hard to swallow wasn’t it?  As youth pastor’s/ leaders it is essential for us to recognize times when we need to take a huge bite out of the pie of humility – sometimes even when we know we are right.  Sometimes we have to lay aside our pride and save the relationship as long as it doesn’t hurt or tarnish our integrity.  How are you at being humble?  When is the last time you apologized to a parent or student?

We’re on the same team: As an umpire I want to help both teams play to their best ability by enabling the rules in a fair way for both sides.   As youth pastor’s/ leaders we are on the same team as the parents in our churches.  Do we act like it?  Do we interact with them and let them know that we are wanting to help them coach their student along in their faith journey?  Even as I write this I know there are parents I know I need to interact with better so this is a good reminder for myself as well.  How are you doing with your parents?  Maybe it’s time to eat some humble pie and restore that relationship with those you may not get along the best with.

I think these are 4 principles that can help us in youth ministry.  Sometimes ministry isn’t easy or glamorous – but then again if you’re looking for ease and glamor in ministry maybe you aren’t in the right calling.