I’ve been reading Jeremiah lately and I’m coming to the conclusion that he was a model for youth workers everywhere. He was a long suffering servant of the Lord who did not see the fruit of his ministry within his lifetime. Yet his prophetic role gave us some of the most powerful images of Jesus in the Old Testament. Here are just a few reasons why I think Jeremiah would make a great youth worker:

Jeremiah used creative illustrations to get his message across. 

Jeremiah was notorious for using object lessons to teach God’s message to the people of Israel. At one point he wore the same pair of underwear for an extended time without washing it and then buries it for a long time. His message, “Israel’s pride is like dirty underwear.” Sounds like a great middle school illustration to me. This is a great reminder that using tangible illustrations are essential to teaching to teens.

Jeremiah sacrificed greatly for his ministry. 

The Lord told Jeremiah not to take a wife or have children. Also, He also was constantly under threat of harm from those who didn’t like his message. At one point he was actually thrown into cistern and left for dead. I’m proud to be a part of a youth ministry tribe filled with many men and women who sacrifice greatly for the calling they have for teens.

People didn’t listen to his message. 

The repeated theme in Jeremiah’s ministry was that his audience wasn’t receptive to his message. Likewise, there are many times in youth ministry when must persist to share the truth of God with teens who aren’t interested in hearing the truth of God’s word.

Jeremiah wrestled with his calling, yet trusted in the Lord. 

In Jeremiah 20, he says that God tricked him into the ministry and wished he could do something else. I don’t know of a seasoned youth worker that hasn’t wrestled with God’s calling on their lives at least some point in their ministry. What’s cool about Jeremiah is that he persisted in his calling because of the trust he had in the Lord.

Jeremiah had hope beyond reason.

Despite all the obstacles that Jeremiah faced, he still had hope. Late in his ministry, after setback upon setback, Jeremiah writes a message on a scroll hoping, “It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the disaster that I intend to do to them, so that every one may turn from his evil way, and that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.” (Jer. 35:3). I love it that most youth workers are fiercely hopeful that God is at work even when there is reason to be hopeless.

I wish that more youth workers would read Jeremiah as a primer for youth ministry. I wish we had more Jeremiah-type youth workers who sacrifice, persist and hope in their calling to see lives changed for Jesus. Finally, I wish I would be refined to become more like Jeremiah myself.