Blog/CYM Blog

Is the Grass Greener?

Samuel is one of my favorite characters in scripture. The idea of hearing the voice of God, and not being sure what it really means resonates with me, as does his willingness to answer God with a profound yes. When I was just growing in my spiritual journey, I was anxious to say yes to God, without even knowing God’s desires for me.

But an important part of Samuel growing up in the faith was the faith and sacrifice of his mother, Hannah. Hannah had no children, and her husband, Elkanah, was also married to a woman, who had many children. This was difficult for Hannah, even as Elkanah loved Hannah immensely. Scripture tells us that Elkanah would give “a double portion to Hannah because he loved her.” (1 Samuel 1:5) However, Hannah still wept regularly because of her desire for children. And Elkanah would ask her “Hannah, why do you weep and why do you refuse to eat? Why do you grieve? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8)

In youth ministry, I start out as gung-ho as Samuel. I am anxious and enthusiastic to respond to the call of God, to do daring things in the name of Christ, and to not hold anything back. I love knowing where God is calling me, answering that call, and jumping into a new project, a new ministry, a new vision, or building a new team to build up the Kingdom.

At the same time, I am also very much like Hannah. While I want to jump into where God is calling me, I too easily look around at what others have. It is almost routine for me to dwell on priests that are more supportive, churches with more resources, parishes with more parent support, the youth minister with the more impressive youth room, the Core Team that is more committed, the teens that are less focused on money, and on and on. I can always look around and see the fruit that other people are enjoying, just as Hannah saw her rival wife enjoying many children of her own.

Too often, I am asked by God a question similar to what Hannah was asked “Am I not enough? Do you not trust in me?”

There is much to be grateful for in youth ministry. Much to thank God for in the joys, the ups and downs, the lack of boredom, the incredible people that we get to meet and work with, and the faith we get to witness being born in teens. But so often I am tempted to focus on what I don’t have. I get distracted by the obstacles instead of celebrating God’s victories and glories through the ministry I get to be a part of.

Hannah cried out to God in her distress, and God rewarded her. She took her shortcoming, and she offered it to God, with a desire for God to ultimately be glorified. God is asking for the same faith and offering of self. In our lives, in our ministries, and in our Churches, if we take those obstacles, shortcomings, and the frustrations and give them to Christ, He will work wonders.

About the Author

Joe Chernowski

Joe Chernowski is ridiculously blessed through his wife, Kelly, and family of 6 children. He spends his time dancing, running, playing, laughing, reading, and praying with them all. When he isn't at home with them or when he isn't at Mission District as the Eastern Region Director for Life Teen, he is probably out running. To hear more about his family & ministry shenanigans, check him out on Twitter @LT_joec.