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Arise and Shine (John 6:24-35)

“Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27)

For the past eight years, I have been blessed to serve the church through Life Teen. I’m blessed by the relationships I have with the youth ministers and the conversations we have about ministry, personal and prayer life, and our faith in God. We discuss the struggles of parish life, balancing vocations, and the need for a vacation. I’m inspired by the joy they radiate from the conviction that what they do for God’s glory is exactly what they are called to do.

So it hurts my heart time and time again when a youth minister calls and says that it’s time to get, “a real job”. You know what I mean; a job that pays more for their growing family or provides full-time work versus part-time. A job that will be from 9-5 so they can have dinner at home with their family more than two times a week. I don’t mean to make these needs seem unimportant or unnecessary in the world we live in today because I know they are. But today’s gospel ripped at my heart when I heard it proclaimed:

“Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”

Do we not realize that what we accomplish as youth ministers has eternal ramifications? It may not provide a Harvard education for your son or daughter or even pay off your student loans rapidly, but it will endure past our time here on earth.

If only we could see how real our “job” is. Your job is not just playing with teens or planning retreats and youth nights. In the secular world, you do a plethora of jobs that translate to specific careers and skill sets, including: accounting, banker, counselor, therapist, mediator, at times interventionist, spiritual director, driver (you never know who you could evangelize with a side job with Uber), cook, sous chef, dishwasher, janitor, Sam’s Club, Costco, and Dollar Store professional shopper, event planner (you could teach Jennifer Lopez a thing or two as a Wedding Planner for sure), liturgist, worship leader, musician, singer, recruiter and trainer for Core and catechists (keep in mind they are all volunteers), actor, videographer, movie editor, sound technician, audiovisual department, set designer, marketer, graphic designer, t-shirt maker, web designer, nurse, speaker, teacher, retreat director, camp counselor, fundraiser, and so much more.

Let us not negate the fact that we are honored to lead teens closer to Christ and watch their hearts soar the moment they fully comprehend that He is “the bread of life”. (John 6:35) We invite teens to trust in and live for Christ, the only body and blood that will satiate their hunger and thirst. We get to walk with teens and their families through some of the most spectacular and heartbreaking moments of their life and by the grace of God we grow in relationship with our Creator. Oh the abundant blessing God pours on us by answering His call!

Do we still question God’s provision even after He sent His Son to earth to endure the cross and open the gates of heaven through His death and resurrection? Are we still waiting for a sign like the crowd in today’s Gospel that followed him, “because you ate the loaves and were filled”? (John 6:26)

Recognize how real your job is and fully comprehend the privilege it is to hold the title “youth minister”. You have gifts that you don’t even recognize, and God can’t wait to reveal to you. You do more than anyone will understand, but then again, you don’t do it for your glory, you do it for God’s. Remember that you don’t work for food that perishes, but for food that endures for eternal life. (John 6:27) The pay may not be great, the hours might be long, but the eternal benefits package is not of this world.

About the Author

Tricia Tembreull

Tricia Tembreull is a California girl with a Texas-size heart for hospitality. She said yes over twenty years ago to God’s call to youth ministry and never could’ve imagined the adventures and people He had planned for her to encounter along the way. She serves as a Parish Coach for Life Teen and joyfully travels around the globe training, empowering, and praying with youth ministers. When not on a plane, you can find Tricia in a church, spending time with family and friends, in the kitchen cooking up something delightful, or on the beach for an evening walk.

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