Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, to Youth Worker, my dear one: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your the tears you shed for teenagers, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your own youth worker and in your youth worker’s youth worker before that and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the power of the Holy Spirit and your calling from God to this precious ministry. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of your calling or work; do not be ashamed of what others would think silly, or a lesser calling; do not be ashamed of investing into teenagers written off by most adults, including most in your church. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
What you have heard from me and the rest of scripture, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
You know that many dismiss me, as they dismiss you, including the wife of the board chairman and driven father of that one rich kid.
You then, my youth worker, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to other reliable youth workers who will also be qualified to teach teenagers. Join with me in suffering, as you clearly do. You suffer sideways glances and rumors. You suffer people asking what you do ‘the other days of the week’, or ‘what you’re going to do when you grow up’ or ‘if you’d like to be a real pastor one day.’ you suffer unrealistic expectations, and people who only measure your impact in attendance, and church leaders with authority over you who do not understand that your best work is not done in the church office. You suffer teenagers who you’ve poured your life into turning away from our Savior. You suffer with every choice they make, because of your Christlike love for them. You, my dear youth worker, suffer like God suffers. And in that suffering, you draw near to the heart of God. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
we disown him,
he will also disown us;
if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.
others in this series:
selections from exodus 3 & 4, rewritten for youth workers
2 Corinthians 11 & 12, if Paul had been a youth worker
psalm 23 for youth workers
luke 5 for youth workers
1 kings 19 for youth workers