Patrick and I first met when I was hired to be a summer youth intern. I was 19 at the time and completely unaware of what youth ministry was about or what it should look like. Patrick and I have now been married for almost 3 years. During this time I've grown a lot and learned a few things about ministry .
The first thing I learned is that ministry is messy. Anytime you are constantly fighting your own sin and dealing with other peoples sin, you can expect heartache and a big fat mess at times. My husband, despite what some people may think, has a difficult job. I will never forget the time I overheard a woman ask Patrick if he was going to get a "real job". We'd just gotten engaged and I guess she thought he would need to make more money. Regardless, I wanted to slap her across the face. After I repented of this, I began to think of the erroneous view so many people have on youth ministry. Not only do people believe that youth ministers have the easiest job, they also seem to think that they can do the job better. I know very few people who can do the job as good as my husband, and yes, I am biased.
The second thing I've learned is that youth ministry isn't just his job, it is our job. No, my name does not appear on his paycheck, but I've grown accustom to brainstorming for the next Jr. High "x-travaganza", listening to and encouraging Patrick as he vents his frustrations, leading discipleship group once a week at our house, going to youth ministry team meetings, using a week of vacation for Breakaway every summer, and being present at every youth event possible when I'm not working. I do these things for two reasons. 1) I love my husband and 2) I love the youth at our church. I'm thrilled that I get to be in ministry with my husband.
The third lesson learned (one that I'm sure I'll learn over and over again) is that there is a lot more to life than money. Youth pastors aren't known for the incredible salary they bring home. Early in our marriage, I figured this meant I would just have to suck it up and be the "breadwinner". Patrick eventually pointed out to me that I was acting like superwoman (something I do often). Money can buy a lot of things that I don't need and it doesn't buy happiness. Happiness is knowing that there is a sinless Savior that died so that my rotten self can be declared righteous before a just God. Happiness is watching Jr. High students come to the saving knowledge of Christ at the Edge conference. For me, one source of happiness comes from handing a newborn baby to its mother for the very first time. Being married to Patrick keeps me grounded in the things that really matter.
Lastly, I've learned that ministry is all about loving people. I've watched Patrick love on people that aren't easy to love and be patient with students that would drive most people insane. I've known him to comfort grown men who are in tears over their sons current choices in life. I've stood in awe as he somehow gets up the morning after returning from a mission trip to Belize and goes to the church to run around on a field with Jr. High students in the middle of the summer. You'd think that after a week without air conditioning he'd stay inside for an entire week, but he keeps going. I've seen him lead students in the kind of worship that makes you feel like you are literally standing in heaven with all the saints and angels singing along. His job requires such incredible selflessness. I feel like I learn what it means to die to myself and pick up my cross daily when I watch Patrick do ministry.