If you have ever volunteered in a youth/student ministry anywhere, this was written for you.
Volunteer Thank You
By Michael Clinger 5/29/14
Thank You for following God’s lead.
If you are a volunteer or youth worker reading this, then you are one of the few, the proud, and the brave who followed a calling to youth ministry. Thank you for giving your life to students. The road you are on is not the easiest, and there are a lot of entry ramps onto it. Whether you have a child of your own that is a student, needed a place to serve in the church, or got volunteered by someone else, you are here for a reason, and God knows that reason. Every youth worker has a unique set of gifts that God can use, so thank you for giving yours for the sake of our students. Ephesians 2:10 reads, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God has a purpose specifically for you, so thank you for following God’s lead to our students.
Thank You for standing up for our students (all of them).
So often in our culture, teenagers are described as being too (Fill in the blank). Too loud, too young, too unpredictable, etc. Thank you for being countercultural in that aspect. So often teenagers are referred to as the “Church of the Future,” but thank you for understanding that they are the church now. Thank you for seeking opportunities for our students to have responsibility, for listening to their ideas, and for being a voice for them among your peers. Every ministry has those students who are on the fringes. Thank you for being consistent in caring and reaching out to those who have trouble fitting in, smell funky, are a little crazy, are misunderstood, are shy, and also those who are not shy enough. In Mark chapter 2, Jesus is looked down upon for spending time with those who were disliked by the religious. Jesus responded by saying, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” You are mirroring Christ when you pursue those students. Thank you for that.
Thank You for believing that God’s Word makes a difference in the lives of our students, and for sharing that Word with little to no affirmation.
If you’re involved with youth ministry for the recognition, you won’t be involved much longer. Students are very unlikely to thank you or openly appreciate you. THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT YOU DON’T DO A GREAT JOB. Another frustration of many youth workers is there often is no fruit of their labor evident in the lives of students. Keep planting seeds and cultivating your plants! Just because you don’t see any difference in the lives of the teenagers doesn’t mean you aren’t making one. You are taking the Word of God and putting it into the lives of teenagers, how could that not make a difference? God’s Word will not return void. Thank you for your perseverance in sharing a beautiful gift with our students.
Thank You for giving while never expecting anything in return.
Thank you for sacrificing. Most people probably have no idea how much money you spend being a volunteer. No one knows how much of a time commitment you have made to be in the presence of and praying for our students. Thank you for offering your resources, time, and money to share the love of Jesus with teenagers who will never pay you back. There is a lot more to being a volunteer than people on the outside will ever know. Thank you for opening up your home, buying food, coming to events, and praying regularly for these teenagers. In Matthew 18 Jesus said that anyone who welcomes a child in his name welcomes him. These teenagers aren’t exactly children anymore, but still, thank you for welcoming Jesus into your home in the form of our students. Thank you for your generous spirit, and remember, God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Thank You for being a voice of truth and encouragement in the lives of our students.
First of all, thank you for spending enough time with our students so that this is possible. Something great that volunteers have the opportunity to do is see the strengths of teenagers that no one else sees. Our students live in a world where they likely think plenty of negative thoughts about themselves, let alone what other negative things people tell them. Our teens need to hear what they do well, and they need to be encouraged to continue in those things. They would never admit it, but they deeply desire affirmation from the adults that they respect, and you are those people. When you see a student with a particular gift, tell them that you see it, and encourage them to cultivate it. Thank you for being an adult that is both accessible and approachable to these teenagers. You have become a trusted voice of reason in their lives. Let God continue to speak through you. Thank you for the constant encouragement that you are.
Thank You for being vulnerable in your weaknesses.
One of the worst things for a teenager to believe is that mature Christians are perfect people. They know their weaknesses and struggles, and if they believe that perfection is what God wants, many of them will turn away, knowing that they can never achieve it. They need a person who is human and struggles with some things, just like they do. Thank you for being that person. Obviously, oversharing is not good, but thank you for sharing what needs to be shared. A great thing about God is that He uses our weaknesses to bring forth his glory. In 2 Corinthians 12, the Lord says to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Even Paul had struggles, and he let people know that he did. There has been only one perfect person, and you are not him. Thank you for appearing human to our students.
Thank You for loving God and trusting Him to use you.
To spend the amount of time that you do sharing God’s Word with our students, you must love God. Thank you for having that relationship with God and letting Him guide you to our students. You likely do not have the total package for the “ideal” youth worker. You’re probably not prepared, skilled, trained, and cool all at the same time, and that’s ok, no one is. Being a good youth worker is not about being young and cool, but it’s about loving God, trusting in Him, caring for students, and pointing them towards God. Thank you for doing those things, that’s all that can be asked of you. Thank you for serving God despite your inadequacies. Many let their shortcomings keep them from living out the calling that God has for them, but thank you for trusting that God can use what gifts you have for the betterment of His kingdom. The young boy that came with five loaves of bread and two fish did not have enough food to feed five thousand people, but through Jesus, God made it more than enough (John 6). God can take what little you have and make something amazing happen. Thank you for trusting that God can do more than you can.
You are the unsung heroes of youth ministry. What is done among our students could never be accomplished without you and others like you. Thank you for all that you have done, all that you are doing, and all that you will do.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58.
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May His face shine upon you and give you peace. Amen.
*This is something I wrote for volunteers in youth/student ministry. Its not an original idea, but most of the content is original. Inspired by Doug Fields’s booklet, “Thank You: Appreciation for
Volunteer Youth Workers.”