As I write this, our middle schoolers are having the time of their lives at camp and for the first time in nearly a decade, I’m not with them. Sending those busses away yesterday was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a while. Being a youth pastor at camp is one of the things I love most about the role because you build memories that last a lifetime. It’s also an opportunity for students to connect with you as their pastor.

Now that I oversee our student ministry, I get fewer of those moments. It’s not my role for students to see me as their pastor. I get to cast vision and set direction and empower our team, which is really exciting. But this week, I’m grieving the loss of those special perks of being directly over a flock of students.

But then I remind myself that I’ve been blessed beyond belief with the number of years I’ve gotten to be “the guy”. I’ve gotten to experience a treasure trove of memories seeing God work in the lives of students. I also remind myself that I’m still being true to my calling by equipping the next generation of youth workers.

At our high school camp last week I reminded one of our team (really I was trying to convince myself) that one of my primary tasks is to give ministry away to as many people as possible. I’ve got to find satisfaction knowing that I’m helping other people experience the same joys of student ministry that I’ve received all these years.

In Acts 20:35 Paul attributes the saying to Jesus, “It’s better to give than to receive.” I’m learning that there is joy in applying this to ministry leadership.

The best leaders I know seem to recede into the background while others get the credit and privileges. I want to be that kind of leader. Like a father who watches his children open presents on Christmas morning, I want to be the type of leader who finds intrinsic joy in seeing other people unwrap the gift of seeing a student come alive with the Gospel.

It’s not just leaders of staff teams that this applies to, either. We’ve all got ministry we can give away. Do you have interns? Let them have more stage time and ownership. Do you have volunteers? Let them become the pastor to their students. Students, too, let them use their gifts and abilities leading upfront.

No one likes a hoarder. Everyone loves a cheerful giver. How are you going to give ministry away this week?

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