Why I Was A Youth Intern
I've spent the past 3 summers working the same job. I've been a youth intern at Liberty Christian Fellowship church. The video above pretty much shows what it's looked like. When I think to the future and look around at my classmates, I realize that my job choice has little to nothing to do with my chosen career. As a graphic designer, having "youth intern" on my resume doesn't really scream hire me. I sit here having invested the past three summers in one place, doing one job, and I have to ask myself the question: "Why did I do it?"
Looking back, I see three huge reasons why serving as a summer youth intern was the best possible choice I could've made:
1. SERVING JESUS IS ALWAYS WORTH IT
This could've been reasons 1-30 and I think I could easily find 30 different lessons I've learned as I've worked this job. As I grow in my relationship with Christ, I hope I learn how to incorporate loving and follow Jesus and others into every aspect of my life. But during this time, I've had the chance to spend 3 summers investing intentionally in the lives of middle school and high school students in ways I might not ever have the opportunity to do again. I've learned during that time that I'm probably not cut out for a life as a youth pastor. I'm not sure it will ever be my job to work at a church or run a youth group. That in no way invalidates or discounts this time.
During college, there is this idea that you are supposed to use summer to strengthen your resume or take on daring internships and make yourself a hireable adult. I think I've done that. But not because I got better or at design or made cool videos for a portfolio or anything like that. In about a year, I'm going to graduate college. I'll get a new job, I'll be married, I'll move out of my parents basement (about 3 years later than expected) and life will be completely different.
MY LIFE MAY CHANGE COMPLETELY.
BUT JESUS WON'T.
Serving him won't be any less valuable. Investing in discipleship and ministry will not be any less worthy of giving my life to.
Learning to continually dedicate my life in service to Christ as a youth intern has strengthened my faith in him and my confidence to dedicate my life to him in every area. I hope my time as a youth intern makes me a better employee, husband, brother, friend, and father someday. I hope time spent serving Jesus vocationally will radically alter my life even when the job ends and I move on to other things.
2. WORKING WITH PEOPLE IS HARD
In this job, like every job, I worked with people. I spent the last summer working with my fiancee. I plan to spend the rest of my years with her joyfully, and yet you know what? Working with her was still incredibly difficult at times. Every single one of my summers has been incredibly different in terms of the people I worked with and the dynamics of working within a team. But this time has taught me so many lessons about what it looks like to work together as a team. It's shown me what it looks like to lead as a servant and follow as a co-worker. To listen to people whose ideas are completely different than me and appreciate what other people who work completely different than me bring to the table. I've seen how selfish, close-minded, and prideful I have the tendency to be, and if I hadn't worked with other people in the situations the internship has brought me through, I'm not sure where I would be as a person. I've had my strengths strengthened and my weaknesses illuminated more through other people than I ever would have in a typical workplace.
At the end of the day, I know I have the most important thing in common with the people I work with: Jesus. That has created a loving, grace filled sandbox where I can learn through trial and error (definitely a lot of error in the process) without the fear of the hammer dropping when everything falls apart. And trust me, everything has fallen apart. But the people I've worked with have been loving and gracious, and have put up with me in incredible ways that have shown me how to be an employee and servant of Christ.
3. CREATIVITY HAS TO BE CULTIVATED
I've been given a lot of freedom in my job as a youth intern. I've had facilities at my disposal that we've been able to use and play in without much fear of reprisal. I've spent hours trying to think up games and events that are 50% fun and 50% total over-complicated failures. I've created series designs and videos however I wanted them to look. I've grown from being a rookie communicator trying to speak in way too many analogies to being a slightly more experienced communicator who still tries to use too many analogies, but occasionally gets a good one here or there.
One of my favorite drummers, Darren King from MUTEMATH, says this about his growth as a drummer:
I'm not sure how much success or ability I have right now, but I think a lot of growth has come from my freedom to be terrible at creative pursuits in the context of LCF's youth group. Every time something has crashed and burned, I've learned a little more about what it means to be creative. A lot of my attempts haven't necessarily hit the mark, but having the ability to try and fail without fear of a rebuke has meant far more to me than being given tasks to complete in a controlled environment. This job has shown me what it looks like to be truly creative, and I'm not sure any other experience could've given me the sandbox to play in that this internship has created.
There's been a lot of weird nostalgia as I finish this last summer as an intern. I've spent a significant portion of time asking myself questions. Do these kids even like me? Have my talks on Sunday nights made any sense? Were my games always too complicated? Has being a youth intern hurt my ability to find a job out of college? Has my time really had value?
Through a lot of wrestling and prayer, I've come to the strong conclusion that regardless of the individual outcomes, the time spent was worth it.
Choosing to follow Jesus, regardless of the outcome, is always worth it.
It's always greater than the next best alternative. I pray that my 3 years working this job have been valuable and have had some sort of eternal fruit and harvest.
I've had the time of my life. Jesus is on the throne and has reigned, is reigning, and will continue to reign over my life and all other people.
And that's what matters.