I wasn’t looking for a job. I was nearing the end of my second semester at MSU-Mankato and completing my generals. I also worked part-time at a local daycare center in the Toddler Room. Life was full of studying (kind of), writing papers, trying to pay rent and changing at least 32 diapers during a shift. My roommate, Kayla, was contemplating a job change and I offered to help her search. While being a student, I had the ability to login to our school job search where I began to look for something she would enjoy. And there it was.
I printed off the job description and called my mom (aka my go-to gal for anything needing discussion). “Go for it! The worse they can say is ‘No.’ It’s definitely worth a shot.” I thought about it for quite some time. I certainly didn’t want to quit my job at the daycare and they’d have to be willing to work around my school schedule. I was just about to head into my core Special Education classes and my classes weren’t flexible. But… it sounded amazing.
Once I hit 7th grade, my mom was my Youth Director at my home congregation in St. Joseph. Between you and me, it was pretty terrible. I had to be early for everything, I had to stay late for everything and I had no joy in spending time with my mother. I was expected to attend every event, which honestly, I loved being involved regardless. I LOVED Bible Camp, I LOVED mission trips, I LOVED spending time with my friends before and after confirmation. I loved Ash Wednesday Soup Suppers. I loved the community, I loved everything about my church.
I felt so lost when I came to college- I wanted to embrace my newly found freedom, but I longed for a church family again. Devin, who was my boyfriend at the time, visited several area churches while we were in school. Christ the King was our first stop (because it was the closest to my apartment). I was…. unimpressed. It was big. There wasn’t communion every Sunday. There was no band. We left and talked about other options to explore the following weeks.
So, when I came across the job opening for Good News Bearers Coordinator at Christ the King Lutheran Church I was apprehensive, but I hoped this could be my way back into a church family I’d so ached to be apart of again. I emailed my application and cover letter to Pastor Patrick, after having my sister look it over three million times. “It has to be perfect,” I said. I called several times and left Patrick two voicemails. When he called me for an interview, I was ecstatic. I remember thinking to myself that I couldn’t wear a lot of makeup because ‘Youth Directors aren’t into their appearance’.
I was 20. I’d never had a formal interview in my life. Pastor Steve, Pastor Patrick and the current Sr High Youth Director sat around an enormous oval table where I sat at the head of. They asked me tough questions, they asked me some easy questions. I left the interview completely red with embarrassment. I sounded so stupid. ‘They are probably in there right now laughing about what I said. And that guy, Pastor Patrick, was such a… dork!’
He called me back the following day to schedule a 2nd interview. I was absolutely floored to get a call back. Something I said must have been somewhat impressive…. I was late to the 2nd interview because my print-off MAPQUEST (yes, this was 2007) directions brought me to the wrong side of the street. Even after being late, having a really rough 1st and 2nd interview, Pastor Patrick offered me the job. I proudly became Christ the King’s new Good News Bearers Coordinator in December of 2007.
Fast forward 7 years later… I’m still here, though my job has changed quite a bit over the years. I became the Jr High Youth Director after we, from scratch, created a wonderful new Wednesday night program for our families. Primarily, I’m in charge of anything and anyone 7-9th grade. Sounds crazy to you? I imagine it does. Jr Highers are smelly and annoying and dramatic. Yes, you’re right. But in the middle of it all, they’re all so wonderful.
They’re honest. They’re full of life. They’re passionate. They’re inspiring and rejuvenating. They’re goofy and silly and love to be with their friends. I love that about them. I love their emotions. I love their love for others.
I just… love them so much.
We play together, we learn together, we pray together, we worship together. We laugh, cry, give, share, imagine, create and inspire. We invite, forgive, sing and praise. They are the church family I’ve always wanted. It’s my job to not only help them know the Good News, but I GET to make memories with them. Memories filled with fun and laughter and ultimately, Jesus.
I’ve sat and cried with a kid after his parent had passed away. I’ve gotten texts from a girl at midnight after her boyfriend broke up with her. I’ve watched girls struggle with eating disorders and had hard discussions with their parents. I’ve brought ice cream to the girl struggling with medical complications. I’ve met for froyo to talk about boys and teachers. I’ve talked with kids about their addictions and struggles. I’ve cheered on the dancers and skaters and actors and basketball players. I’ve shared my life with them, I’ve shared my stories of failings and successes.
In May of 2013, I let my first jr highers go as they traveled off all over the country for college. My eyes watered as I hugged many of them goodbye at the end of the summer, wishing them well and telling them to “Make good choices,” (my catch phrase). More and more kids come and go through my program, but I never forget those who’ve left. My heart is full of joy when they come home for breaks and I get to see how they are doing.
It’s not always wonderful. I struggle every day to get enough help from parents to chaperone or lead a small group or be a driver, but the kids make it worth it. Every time. All the time. It’s not wonderful when I fail and say something I’m not supposed to say. Or when I send a postcard with the wrong day (this happens more than you would expect). It’s not wonderful when I have to tell parents that we can’t offer an activity because nobody wants to volunteer to help. It’s not wonderful to get paid like, really really little.
But I do it because they are amazing kids. They deserve ALL what we give and so much more. They deserve to be loved and for adults to make amazing memories with them. They deserve for church to be inspiring and loving and FUN! I do it because I love it. I do it because I love them.
1st Timothy 4:12