Devotions,  Education,  Life Stories/Lessons

3 Things My Youth Pastor did that Prepared me for Life.

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

Youth pastors often get a bad rap in our culture. Sometimes rightfully so. There has been a cultural trend to put greater emphasis on being relatable and fun than on being wise and knowledgeable counselors. Having fun is good and healthy, but what every person needs, regardless of age, is a deeper relationship with God. One that will sustain them through the hard places of life.

As a teenager, I experienced life differently from most of my peers. My health battles limited my freedom, caused great inner turmoil, and left me lonely much of the time. It was hard as an introspective, quiet girl to express these feelings to others. Thankfully, I had people that discipled me and gave me an anchor to hold on to when life did not make sense.

Knowing Jesus as my personal Savior was what held me together and kept me pursuing relationships within the church. I don’t remember much about the activities in the youth department, but I do remember three things that my youth pastor did to encourage me to make every effort to pursue a deeper understanding of God and who I was in Christ.

3 Spiritual Practices My Youth Pastor taught me.

  • My youth pastor (and other female workers) took time to answer my questions about life, faith, and the Bible.

After I received Christ at the age of 14, I was thirsty to know and understand what this meant for my daily life. Something in me had shifted, and I was thirsty for truth. I would sit on my bed most evenings and read chapters of the Bible while writing down all the questions I had about what I read. Much of it didn’t make sense to me, but I still felt encouraged by reading. I began a notebook of questions and my youth pastor agreed to meet with me on a few Saturdays to go over them with me. I learned so much from those meetings, and I grew thirsty for more.

I am forever grateful for my youth pastor’s kindness to take time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. Even after I was married and working with the teens, I would often find myself asking him about the questions that mulled around in my mind at all times. On a bus, at his home, at church camp, playing basketball…I probably drove him crazy, but he always shared what he had learned with me.

This is true discipleship.

As parents, this should begin in our homes. As older women, this can be an opportunity to encourage someone younger in the faith. If you work with teenagers, don’t miss out on the chance to impact a student for life. Your investment in their spiritual growth will never be wasted. Those lessons gave me a solid foundation to build upon and the strength to hold on to faith in the darkest times of my life.

  • My pastor taught me how to use Bible references and study tools.

I remember one Saturday my youth pastor had a Bible study training day. To my knowledge and memory, only my sister and I showed up. But I never forgot that day as I walked in to see the Bible concordances, dictionaries, and other study aids laid out on the table. Just being exposed to some of these resources told me that as a girl, I could grow in my understanding of God through Scripture. My spiritual life was no less important that the pastors. I have been using these resources ever since. It has impacted me in ways that have benefited and encouraged others as well.

If you are a parent, have you ever considered teaching your teenagers how to study the Bible? If you minister to others, have you thought about teaching these things? If you haven’t been taught yourself, there are people that will help you. I would love to help you. Just ask.

  • My youth pastor encouraged me to memorize Scripture.

I remember charts and stickers lining the youth group wall and showing up every Sunday and quoting the week’s verses. I also remember how hard it was. I failed many weeks and didn’t always get a sticker on my chart. But I tried, and God blessed it. I couldn’t always remember the reference or every single King James’ word perfectly in order, but God’s word was planted in my heart and mind, and it transformed me.

There were times when I was facing major surgery that Scripture took over my mind and preserved me in my fear and anxiety. The peace of God came through the truths learned during those years. They may not have come as memorized, but the Holy Spirit brought the truths I needed to my mind from what had been planted there. Through losing a child, parenting, decades of marriage, and losing loved ones, Bible memorization has been a gracious gift in the midst of the harsh realities of life. Scripture is a gift to us, and we don’t always express our gratitude by spending time there.

During 2020, these actions from my youth pastor have stood out to me more prevantly as I have needed God to navigate all the unknowns. The life of peace I have today is due to the years of seeds planted that are sprouting up still today.

Isaiah 55:11 reminds us that the word of God does not return void:

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

Become a Spiritual Mentor

Whether you are a youth pastor, parent, teacher, sibling, friend, or spouse, you can encourage others by being in the word and then looking for someone to share what you are learning with.

If you don’t know where to start, send me a comment or email me at terriprahl@gmail.com. I would love to talk about where you are currently and where you can go from here.

If you have grown stale, I have some resources on the blog for cultivating a heart for Scripture in my Psalm 119 study. You can find it in the archives when you subscribe to the blog.

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