For the past few years, I’ve been asked to visit a college classroom and talk with a group of students studying youth ministry. They ask questions, I try to answer honestly as they seek to discover some new tidbit or truth to add to their ministry tool kit.  I feel honored to be asked to speak into the lives of those beginning their ministry journey and it fuels the teacher in me to share my ministry lessons with them.  The questions they ask are usually along the same lines– what do you wish you had known when you were starting? What’s it like to be a woman in ministry?  What are some things you’ve learned? What’s one horror story and one great moment?

Each time I leave the classroom, I realize I do know a few things.  It’s been 30 years since I began working with students and 20 of those years have been spent in student ministry. I would be foolish to think I’ve learned nothing yet when I think of what I have learned i find that it really is pretty simple – most of the best things we’ve ever learned are. Have you noticed that? Things like: don’t touch hot stoves, tie your shoes, drink water, look both ways, stranger/danger – simple but important.  It’s the same with ministry, simple but important.

So as I begin this writing journey, sharing what I’ve learned during my years of ministry seems like a good place to start.  It’s not rocket science, it’s not even mathematical, but they are true to me: (not in order of importance, but just an order)

  • I am not God: God changes people, I do not
  • Heart change brings behavior change
  • Vulnerability brings connection
  • Laughter is fundamental
  • Love. Love them well.
  • Others can love them well too
  • The Bible.
  • Safe students, happy parents
  • My family matters.
  • My spiritual health is My job

See, simple.  Could I list more? Absolutely, in fact I’ve added to the list even as I’ve edited this blog – but it’s a start. Over the next few weeks, I’ll unpack what each of these statements means to me with hopes that you can learn from them as I have. 

In the meantime, what has God taught you?  What would you add to this list?