Last night the high school group at our church kicked off its fall season of youth group. This was the first kickoff I missed in nine years. It was weird to not be at church starting another season of ministry. I still remember the excitement of that first night and the comfort that came with being back at youth group, like a pair of Rainbow sandals molded to your feet.
Missing the kickoff is just another example of something I’ve missed in the 10 and a half months since I quit my job. One of the difficult parts of this season is that I feel like I’ve lost more than I have gained.
I’ve missed winter retreats, summer camps, pool parties, conversations with students, meetings with my colleagues, planning worship services and lots of other aspects that I really enjoyed about my job. I’ve missed so much about my youth pastor job, but that empty space hasn’t really been completely filled.
I spoke at a camp. I help lead a small group for young adults. I’ve had opportunities to preach. I still get to help out with the sermon planning at my church. However, if I were to place all of those activities on a scale and weigh them against what I miss, what I have would be found severely lacking.
This isn’t a new revelation; when I made the decision to leave my job I knew that I would be giving up a lot. More than anything, I dreaded giving up the purpose and influence that I had in my job. I loved speaking truth into the lives of young people; I had influence and my life felt like it had purpose. I made the decision, though, to give up that purpose and influence with the belief that God would eventually give me a different purpose and perhaps even greater influence.
I still have faith that God will bring me to that reality. That reality is still a long way off, though, and the youth group kickoff was last night. However, Hebrews reminds us that faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Looking at that scale with what I’ve lost and what I’ve got, it would appear that I don’t have a lot to show for the decision I made 10 and a half months ago. Instead of basing my life on what I see, I’m choosing to have faith that God isn’t done with me yet. I believe that the plan he has in store for me will be better than anything I can imagine. However, I’ll always miss youth group even when I find my new purpose and significance.