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 Wasting My Time Waiting…


Ali Chappell Dehay is a seminary student at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary. She graduated from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC and loves Texas, but loves North Carolina much more. Ali is currently on staff as Minister to Youth at Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, TX.  She loves cheering on the Baylor Bears, Boston Red Sox, and Carolina Panthers while eating Mexican food and drinking diet coke.

In 2014, Business Insider featured a story conducted by Harris Poll asking over three thousand U.S. citizens in the workforce “to identify the jobs they found to be most frightening.” A lot of the responses were what I might expect from such a survey (microbiologist for infectious diseases, crime scene investigator, mortician, animal trainer), but a few other answers were more surprising.  People shared that their idea of “the most frightening job” would be something like a kindergarten teacher, stand-up comedian, or a parent.
When I read this for the first time my jaw dropped. How on EARTH does a profession like teaching even land in the same category as something like mortician?! What makes being a teacher, parent, or a stand-up comedian so terrifying?
Well, they involve things like public speaking, discipline, periodic awkward encounters, silence…sometimes a lot of it, germs, temper tantrums, and oh, just, shaping the minds of America’s youth (no big deal).
As I read this article, I thought “Hmmmm… all of these experiences sound a little like some kind of ministry.”
Ministry was, is, and will likely continue to be a scary profession and an even scarier calling.
The first two years of my work in the church were plagued with constant worry and concern that I would do one thing, that would one day, cause me to lose my job. I felt constricted and constantly stressed. My work became something that I did because it was how I made money, and my calling seemed murky as I shoved it under the surface at the risk of making someone mad.
I had family members who worked at churches, and I witnessed them get hurt. I saw them love people and love their jobs, only to be cut deep by people and their immortal words.  I was so scared of being hurt by people that I completely ignored the passion I had for my job, and the joy I received from my position. I was living as a shadow of my true self, in a calling that deserved my true self.
A sacred hour with my therapist each week helped me to see the crippling fear taking over my life.  She helped me understand how some fear is healthy, but it can often be suffocating, and prevent us from living life as it should be lived; fully.
While my time with her was helpful, I couldn’t shake the instinct of functioning out of fear. One day, I was going through the Starbuck’s drive-thru, attempting to put as much caffeine as possible into my body so I could survive seminary, and one of my favorite songs came on; Badlands by Bruce Springsteen. In his raspy, rocker voice he sang:
“Talk about a dream, try to make it real. You wake up in the night with a fear so real. Spend your life waiting for a moment that just don’t come. Well, don’t waste your time waiting.”
In that moment, sitting in the Starbuck’s drive-thru and waiting for my non-fat cappuccino, I realized that I was doing just that – waiting for a moment that might not come. I was so caught up in the fear of possibilities that I was wasting my time, wasting my life, and wasting God’s call on my life.
Ministry was, is, and will likely continue to be a scary profession and an even scarier calling.
I would be lying to you if I said I still operate fully in the present and never live out of fear. My norm for so long was to function out of this anxiety that I admittedly drift back to that “place” every now and then. Thanks to Bruce Springsteen, I avoid (as much as possible) staying in that place and “waiting for a moment that just don’t come.”
We cannot live fully, when living out of fear.
We cannot live fully, when we’re always wondering if we’re making people happy.
We cannot live fully, when we let negative thoughts of the future dampen our aspirations.
My prayer for all of us in this crazy, beautiful life is that we can be fully present with the ones we love, happy in moments of doing absolutely nothing, fulfilled in the work we do with our hands & our minds, and that [above all] we’ll always be aware of God’s unconditional mercy and love.