This year’s theme is “The Story/The Stories.” Each week our blog will focus on a story from a youth minister. We hope these stories help inspire you in the great work you are doing, as well as let you know you aren’t alone in the crazy, sweet, often hard to fathom world of youth ministry. This week we are hearing……
The Story of my call to ministry and why it is important
Rev. Sarah Boberg is the Minister of Youth and Children at First Baptist Church in Red Springs where she serves with husband and Pastor, Rev. Bradley Boberg. She is the mother of a 3 year old daughter, Scarlet, who is red-headed and full of personality! Sarah is a graduate of Campbell University with a B.A. in Religion and Christian Ministries and a graduate of Campbell University Divinity School with a M.Div. She is currently working on her Ph.D in Educational Studies at UNCG. She is working hard to complete her dissertation focused on the call experiences of Baptist women in ministry. In her free time – let’s get real as a minister, preacher’s wife, mother, and student she has very little of that – but she does enjoy reading, writing, and dancing when she gets a chance!
I was in 10th grade. It was the day of the PSAT. I remember feeling anxious about the exam. I remember sitting in the library as we completed the personal information before the test, name, age, birthday, etc. In the information section were questions that asked what careers and college majors we were interested in. I was stumped. I was confused. I was blind-sighted. I was paralyzed by those questions. I cannot remember any question from the PSAT. I don’t even remember what I scored. But I do remember those questions.
As I gazed on the choices, I kept thinking, “I don’t want to choose just one.” In high-school I was over-involved. I was in FTA, FBLA, FFA, and FHA. (They didn’t have a FMA – Future Ministers of America.) I played sports, took dance, and got a job. I loved so many different things and so many different school subjects and the thought of choosing one was scary and concerning.
As the test ended, I went back to the school day, in a haze thinking, “What am I going to do with my life?” When the school day ended, I continued on to volleyball. I don’t’ remember if it was practice or a game, but I remember remaining in a haze as I prepared for volleyball in the locker room.
After everyone had left the locker room I leaned up against my locker and fell to the floor in tears. I just sat there crying, tears falling on my umbro shorts. (They were all the rage in the 90s.) I don’t know how long I sat there, but eventually one of my teammates came in to check on me. She looked at me and asked, “What’s wrong.” I snorted and sobbed and finally said, “I think God wants me to be a pastor.” She looked at me confused and said, “Well, isn’t that a good thing?” I paused and through tears responded, “I think so.” She then helped me off the floor, I dried my tears on my jersey and proceed to the court.
The day of the PSAT was an “aha” moment for me. However, my call to the ministry did not begin that day or end that day. But it was on that day that God got my attention. I was raised in church. I was “at” church almost every week. Sunday school, Wednesday nights, VBS, trips, retreats, special worship services, you name it, I was there. During my childhood I learned a lot about church and about God. I watched as many different people preached and taught. I loved church. I loved the people. I loved the music. I loved the food. I loved the service. I loved the feeling of belonging and family, so the idea of church service or professional ministry was not a foreign concept to me. I just never imagined it was my life’s work.
The day of the PSAT urged me into action. I went to God’s word. I read everything I could about the voice of God and God’s direction. I went to praying, praying prayers I had never prayed before. I went to asking and watching. I began to take a deeper look into church and the ministers I came in contact with. I went to seeking, seeking a college with a religion major option. I went to serving. I preached my first sermon and began teaching Sunday school at 16. I went to embracing, embracing who God made me and how I could serve God and others in the world.
The day of the PSAT changed my life, well God changed my life on the day of the PSAT. I share all of this because it is important. This calling I hold so dear and the circumstances that pushed me to pursue it have led me to where I am now.
One day, many years after the PSAT/locker room experience, I realized something powerful, I didn’t have to choose. One of my biggest fears as I gazed upon all those major and career choices was having to choose. I didn’t have to choose. Ministry is one of those professions that incorporates a variety of knowledge. Most of the things I loved, are a still a part of my life and work. I loved English – reading, writing, and discussion. I read and write daily, personally and professionally. I loved math. I didn’t realize ministry would include keeping and managing a budget. I loved sports. I still get to play volleyball and be active with my kids. (Our youth group has won the annual camp volleyball tournament 4 times!) I loved, loved, loved to dance. And guess what, I get to teach my youth to express their faith through movement and have been known to cut-a-rug at our annual camp dance night. God got my attention. God spoke to me in a still small voice and thankfully I listened. God didn’t want me to choose a career, God wanted me to choose Him. God wanted me to think beyond what was in front of my face and into what was in my heart.
As a youth minister, I hold this calling and the timing of it very close to my heart. The story of my call experience reminds me of where my students are. It takes me back to high school – Lord, help us all. It reminds me of all that is going on in their lives, that many adults forget. The story of my calling reminds me that God is speaking. The story of my calling reminds me of how important it is to encourage youth to seek God first and worry about college choices and majors less. The story of my call experience forever connects me to the place and time my students experience daily. The story of my call experience forever connects me to a God that created me, formed me, and gifted me.
Sharing this story reminds my youth that I was once a teenager. Sharing this story shows them God is bigger and more creative than a list of bubble answer choices. Sharing this story reminds me and my students that God is real, God is present, and God is at work in our lives, in the lives of others and in the world.