Blog/CYM Blog

Arise and Shine (Mark 12:38-44)

Have you ever had a call from a parent that just set you off? A call that start with a belittling phrase like, “I know you are young,” or “I’m a lawyer, and I know you don’t have much experience with people like me,” and end with an exclamatory statement like, “Is there a priest I can speak with about you and your so-called program?”

You attempt to be sympathetic as you listen to them; while at the same time you recognize that you both want what is best for their son or daughter. You see parents don’t get it every time and are not our enemy. In wanting to do what they think is best for their son or daughter, they occasionally get it wrong – maybe for a variety of reasons – but we can step in to help them understand. Parents might misconstrue the requirements for Confirmation or other aspects of your ministry as demanding too much. Still we are obligated to help them understand that the expectations come primarily from God, not us, our pastor, or the Bishop. God requires all of us!

You can take Mark’s Gospel (Mark 12:38-44) hundreds of different ways, but after a conversation with a youth minister the other day, I read this Gospel with a different heart.

“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:44)

I don’t know one youth minister who is in youth ministry for any other reason than the simple fact that God has called them, and they have responded by giving from their poverty and surrendering their whole livelihood. It is what inspires me every day to wake up and serve the youth ministers who serve in the church. So when we encounter a soul who doesn’t understand the freedom, grace, mercy and love that comes from giving your life to God and trusting that He alone can provide, it can wound our heart.

We encounter a lot of “scribes” in our ministries and as much as we might like to be shrewd like Jesus and point out their faults to the crowds, I think we need to pay closer attention to what He does; he observes the crowd. When we observe the crowd, we see pride imposing the need for an exception. We see souls in spiritual poverty. We see Satan manipulating lives to find more value in wealth, places of honor, and busyness. We see brothers and sisters in Christ fearful of giving their lives to Christ.

We do expect too much! But we only expect what we are willing to give and have given for God’s glory. We don’t want less for our teens in Confirmation or youth ministry; we want more for them, so they have an opportunity to encounter Christ and follow Him as a disciple. We don’t create calendars to avoid our families three nights a week to make family lives more difficult; we create calendars to provide opportunities for teens to gather in prayer as a community that professes a universal Creed. We don’t craft retreat requirements to ruin a family’s weekend; we allow teens and parent the opportunity to retreat from their daily routine and recognize where God fits into their family and life.

So the next time a parent calls upset for reasons you don’t fully understand, take a deep breath and observe what they are saying and not saying. Ask God for the words to share why you ask “too much” from their teen and them. Share your mission in leading teens to Christ and invite them more fully into that mission. Recognize you have not created the expectations; God established the expectations a long time ago. You are simply inviting them into a relationship with Him. Christ never made exceptions; He simply invited people to follow Him in a profound, life-changing way.

Like the woman with two small coins who “contributed all she had, her whole livelihood” (Mark 12:44), every one of us has the decision to make on what we are willing to contribute. It’s amazing what God can do with our offering.


Image via FlickrCC 2.0 Logo added 

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.

Want to write for Life Teen? Click Here to learn more.