For many years now, my line about ministry has been that I am willing to work with any age except youth. I never understood them even when I was one. Last year as my son Eli matriculated into the Youth Program, I thought it my duty to volunteer in some way. I was thinking I would make suppers and bake brownies and maybe work with the Confirmation Class since it was about serious things. Well, when I approached Jason about how I might help out, he immediately said, "We need a Middle School Sunday School teacher at least until we hire an Assistant Youth Director mid-fall." Uh. I didn't know how to respond except to say I would think and pray about it.
So the pondering and praying began . . . Sunday School would be a good time since my husband is so committed to teaching the 3's Class and insists we never miss, but Middle School scared me just like it did when I was in it. A trusted friend asked if Eli would mind me teaching him, because many want some space from their parents at that age. So I asked him, kind of hoping for an out. He responded nonchalantly, "Mom, where else would you be?"
Then as I was preparing for a high school reunion and looking through a scrapbook my best church friend Marcy had made for me in 1984, Eli leaned over my shoulder to see all these silly pictures of me laughing with a great group. He asked what that was and I explained. Then in my heart of hearts, gratitude filled me. I knew "to whom much is given much is required." It was my turn to pay forward the grace and teaching that were generously poured over me at First Presbyterian Church in Orangeburg, SC.
I said yes to Jason with fear and trepidation and held closely to God's words to Joshua, Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9) The first Sunday my games weren't a huge hit, but Eli let me know. Then the second Sunday the put-away games actually got pulled out again. I'm learning.
The questions from these tweens and teens are remarkable and fuel my passion to bring to them God's love and God's word. We have studied Jesus—his life, his teachings, his effect on their lives. It is powerful every week—what they ask, what they share, and who they are. I am blessed beyond measure to spend each Sunday morning with their energy and their acceptance of my energy. Who would have guessed it? Not me.
In December when I reconnected with my former Youth Pastor after 8 years, she laughed and laughed at my news and then we talked for over an hour about the blessings of ministry. Who knows where your journey of discipleship will take you next? To fill a need, to bless a soul, maybe to energize your own faith. O God, lead us on!
About the Contributor
Ansley is a Minister at Large of Foothills Presbytery. She is married to Ned and they have a sixth-grade son, Eli. She is currently a Middle School Sunday School Teacher.