Uncomfortable: A Story About an Introvert in Youth Ministry
It was with great horror that I realized I had drawn a giant butt on the white board.
At first I didn’t realize it. I was actually quite proud of my illustration. In my head it was the perfect visual of how God’s love flowed out from us to others. But then, the snickers started.
I looked at my drawing more intently. What was funny about this?! God’s love being poured out to us and then to others was awesome! But the snickers continued. I glanced over my shoulder at the teens sitting behind me and noticed someone mouthing to their friend, “It’s a butt!”
Comprehension dawned. Indeed, a straight line down and two circles on either side - it was most definitely a butt. I attempted to laugh it off, “Haha, everyone! Let’s try to ignore that it looks like a butt…”
Of course, that didn’t really help at all. More teens broke into laughter, and while I grinned on the outside, I was once again thinking, “Why on earth do I have this job?”
In case you didn’t know, introverts do not enjoy uncomfortable situations.
Introverts also do not enjoy being the center of attention. Especially in uncomfortable situations. My job put me in these situations near weekly.
I’m a youth pastor. Every week I stand in front of teenagers and try to point them to Jesus. It’s not a typical job for an introvert. Youth pastors are supposed to be hip and cool and do crazy things to make everyone laugh. I, on the other hand, enjoy sitting in the back and laughing at said crazy individual.
And yet, here I was: an introvert in an extrovert’s job. Doesn’t make much sense, right?
Well, if I’ve learned anything it’s that Jesus rarely asks us to do the things that make sense.
What made sense to me was going to college, meeting “Mr. Right”, getting married, and then settling down with wherever my hunk of a man went. It was a good plan! Except, Mr. Right didn’t come along in college. In fact, Mr. Right didn’t come along until several years after college, meaning my sensible plan didn’t really work out.
That’s why, at the end of my sophomore year, I still didn’t have a major. Just FYI, you can’t graduate college without a major. It doesn’t work that way. Because I needed to just pick something, I picked youth ministry.
Did I want to be a youth minister? No way! I was the girl known in high school as the quietest of all people ever. I literally never spoke to anyone I didn’t know well. I hated being in front of groups of people and mostly just kept to myself. But I figured most average jobs would be looking for a college degree and it didn’t really matter which one I chose. Plus, learning more about the Bible sounded kind of cool. With this new plan in place, I entered my junior year excited to see where God would take me.
It will come as no surprise that where God took me was right into the world of youth ministry.
I still didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do with my life, so when God opened the door to do a camp internship with my youth group from home, I took it. I ended up planning and leading a whole day of camp, meaning I was in front of large groups of people nearly all day, either teaching or leading the next activity.
It was absolutely terrifying. But in some strange way, also exhilarating. By the end of camp I was utterly exhausted, but thrilled by what I had seen God do in the hearts and lives of teenagers!
The next year I did another camp internship. Slowly, I got more used to being in front of people. I still didn’t like it, but I could do it and I loved being a part of what God was actively doing through this ministry! During my senior year, I was approached with an offer to join my home youth group’s staff. I honestly didn’t even have to think about it, I just walked through this next open door. And thus, I found myself right in the middle of youth ministry.
Now, I know it sounds crazy that I ended up right where I never wanted to be.
But that’s kind of the beautiful thing about following God. He puts you in places where you’re 100% uncomfortable and out of place to show the greatness of who He is. Did I want to be in a job where I’d be forced to stand and share in front of people every week? No. Does God seem even more awesome because I’m allowing Him to work through my weakness? Yes.
By choosing to do what God has put before me, I’m learning the beauty of submitting to His will, not my own. A lot of people spend their whole lives seeking their true passion; the thing they were born to do, the thing that makes them feel fulfilled and happy. But I think sometimes God calls us to do the hard thing, the thing that doesn’t quite feel like it fits.
Why does He do this? Maybe it’s because He uses the willing, not just the gifted. Maybe it’s because through the hard thing He cultivates a deeper trust and reliance on Him. Maybe it’s because He’s preparing us for something even bigger in the future.
God gives us individual passions and abilities, but sometimes when we’re unsure of what exactly He wants us to do, we end up wasting time trying to figure it out.
It might seem crazy to go through the door that doesn’t seem like “our thing”. But isn’t God big enough to get us where we need to be even if it’s not down the path we thought? Couldn’t it be that God has a better plan for us in that scary spot, than on the path that just made sense?
On this path of youth ministry, I’ve learned more of who God is. I’ve gone on adventures I would have never had the opportunity to experience. I’ve laughed and loved and lost and watched as God remained in perfect control of it all. It has been a good journey; one I wouldn’t trade for anything.
So, on this day and in the days to come, don’t be afraid of the open door you feel God nudging you toward.
Even if it doesn’t make sense. Even if it seems like something you’d never want to do. God is bigger than the uncomfortable places, and sometimes He needs to take us there to fulfill His perfect plan for us.
I’m an introvert and God is using me in the uncomfortable spot. You need to ask yourself, what is God asking you to do right now?
Let God work through the hard places. Even if that place ends up being where you draw butts on the white board.
Grace and Peace,