“I didn’t sign up for this.” Have you said those words during the last three months? Have they taken up residence in your heart? Well, the truth of the matter is, you didn’t sign up for any of this. You are not cut out for anything that COVID-19 brought to the table, but that does not give you a license to give up. To all the ministry leaders out there who are exhausted, fresh out of ideas, and struggling to take the next right step, this one’s for you.

Disclaimer: In this volatile season of social media, with opinions slapping people in the face left and right, I feel like I need to state that I am human. I will inevitably leave out a key point, not see this situation from every possible angle, or say something that someone will not agree with. And you know what? That’s okay. I’m not claiming to have all the answers or trying to persuade people to think a certain way; I am simply presenting some thoughts that I hope will encourage someone else.

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has changed the world. The way we view others is skewed by fear and distorted by a virtual reality. Friends and family are divided by arguments over what’s safe, what should be happening, and when life will “go back to normal.” The church has been shaken and put to the test. Ministry leaders have been thrown into problem solving mode in an effort to shepherd and care for people in a bizarre season when in-person gatherings are a health concern. To top it off, no matter what decision the leader makes, someone always has something negative to say about it.

Why is this so difficult to navigate? Why can’t we simply adjust to this new method of ministering to people through a screen or from at least 6 feet (more like 10 feet) apart? As a director of student ministries, I have been up and down, excited and depressed, energized and drained, and everything in between. Just like everybody else, I’ve been racking my brain trying to make meaningful connections with people during this socially distant season.

Think about this — the majority of us were hired because of our passion to connect with people and walk alongside them in their pursuit of Jesus. Many of us possess a skillset involving teaching, facilitating small groups, and connecting personally with others — not speaking to an empty room, teaching to a camera lens, or leading a small group of people that look more like the opening song of The Brady Bunch.

It’s time to give ourselves some grace and realize that we are practically rewriting the tasks in our job descriptions every day. We are dealing with far more logistics and behind-the-scenes details than we ever have before, and that does not come natural for many of us. This is all so hard because we did not sign up to be administrators (and we are eternally grateful for them); we signed up because God designed us to connect and collaborate in person and it’s increasingly challenging to do that in the climate we find ourselves. We are re-thinking how we do ministry and re-inventing how to connect with people. This is a total shift in the life of the church and we are thinking so far outside the box that we can’t even remember what the box looks like! Was it blue? Orange? Plaid? No clue!

Is the Lord surprised by any of this? No. Did He think this would be easy for us? Definitely not. But, He does promise to be with us every step of the way. Look at what His Word says when things get tough

Romans 5:2-5 says, “2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (ESV).

There are several things we can glean from this passage:

  1. Through our faith in Jesus, we stand in grace – which means when we mess up, there is forgiveness and a fresh start. That does not mean we have a pass to be careless, but it does free us from the pressure to achieve perfection.
  2. We rejoice in suffering because of what it produces – endurance, character, and hope. Suffering is not enjoyable in the middle of it, but who we become as a result is well worth the struggle.
  3. This kind of hope does not put us to shame. Why? Because it’s rooted in God’s promises. The Holy Spirit reminds us of God’s love and faithfulness even in the toughest times.

We must hold on to this hope and embrace the gentle whispers of the Holy Spirit that remind us of the truth of God’s Word and the person He created us to be. Hebrews 2:1 implores us to “pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away” (ESV). Now is the time to cling to God’s Word. When nothing else makes sense, we must stand firm on God’s promises.

So, the next time you’re tempted to say, “I didn’t sign up for this,” go ahead and shout it from the rooftops (maybe that’s a little extreme). But really, it’s okay to feel that way, but it’s not okay to let that stop you from doing what God has called you to do. He entrusted these ministries to each one of us knowing full well that we would be in this season right now. Lean into that – ask Him what the next right step is, trust Him when He answers, and walk confidently through the suffering knowing that the anticipated hope will not put you to shame.

Hey! My name is Kayla and I’m the Student Director at a church in Orlando, Florida. Student ministry has taken on many forms in my life – the public school system, churches, leadership organizations, and camps. Most of my experience was developed while working with FUGE Camps. I spent eight summers serving on camp staff, two of which were spent as the Director. I enjoy using the gifts God has given me to create environments where students can grow closer to Jesus!

See DYM resources from Kayla here!