I’ve known I was going to be a Youth Pastor since I was in 7th grade, and with that, I’ve known I was going to be poor my whole life since I was in 7th grade. Just weeks before, I was certain I’d be rich and famous playing 2nd base for the Seattle Mariners with my hero, Alex Rodriguez, on the other side of the infield with me.
God continued to work in me this calling, and I continued to refuse him and run from it. I started college with a double major – Youth Ministry and Political Science. Because I knew what God wanted me to do, but I also knew what I wanted to do. As I transferred to Liberty and got involved with the National Champion Debate Team, youth ministry faded out of the picture for a year, and I believed I’d continue with Political Science and go on to Law School and being a politician, until God brought me back to earth and reminded me that Youth Ministry is what he wanted from me. And I once again handed in my dream of being rich and famous for being a broke nobody.
All of that to say, I knew what I was getting into. This won’t come as surprise to many of you, but Youth Pastor’s don’t make a lot of money. Also not surprising, it’s one of the things that Youth Pastor’s commonly vent about.
Finances are probably the most vented about topic among those in the church, not just Youth Pastors, and it is extremely easy to be ruled over by them. I know personally, God has been working in my heart a ton the last several months about giving over to him the fear and anxiety I get when payday comes and bills are due. God has not made paying bills any easier, but he has been doing a ton of chiseling on my heart.
Several weeks back, I was praying for one of my greatest Mentors and Spiritual Heroes, who I knew was praying for a blessing. During my prayer, I remember saying something along the lines of “God, that man and his wife have done so much for you, I know it would bring you great joy to reward them for their service” and instantly being shut up and appalled at myself as I considered the fact that God doesn’t owe them anything. Furthermore, reminded of the fact that God doesn’t give preferential treatment, that in no way, shape, or form is the prosperity gospel have any hint of truth in it, and that my prayer sounded dangerously close to something you might hear from one of those preachers on TV that I can’t stand.
Recently, God brought this back up in a small group study of Moses, combined with sermon preparation that I had been doing for an upcoming series. It was the simplest of thoughts that God planted in my mind that brought back up that prayer from several weeks ago, and despite how completely discouraging this thought is, it has continued to change my heart and encourage me. The simple thought was this:
Moses did everything the Lord asked of him, and still he spent the last 40 years of his life walking around the desert without a place to call home.
Friends, God doesn’t owe us a single thing. We have no guarantee of riches, we have no promise of prosperity. I think a sad truth is that on paper, none of us would take the deal that God gave Moses – “Step out of your comfort zone, defy the most powerful man in the world, lead thousands upon thousands of people out of slavery and in return I’ll let you walk around the desert 40 years and as soon as you die, I’ll let the group reach their destination. But I will be guiding you the whole time.”
Today, I feel like that offer would look more like “Step out of your comfort zone, take a stand against a culture that wants nothing to do with anything you believe or will be teaching, pour your life into a group of people who will not show you that you are doing any good until after you are no longer in their lives, and in return, I’m going to let you live paycheck to paycheck and not afford to take your family on the vacations you wish you could, and you might even have to be bi-vocational while doing it.”
He doesn’t owe us anything for letting him use us how he wants to use us. We don’t get extra blessings because we are his slaves.
But the joy, hope, zeal and excitement I feel when thinking about what Moses really got is what has me fired up.
Moses got to Know God. Like really know him, in a way that none of us could even imagine. That’s what I want to run after. Is that enough for you?