I cannot believe I am about to enter my tenth year in student ministry. Time flies when you’re having fun! Of course, my time in ministry has had its highs and lows. Overall, however, it has been an incredible and exciting journey. By working with people everyday one gets to see the best and worst of humanity. There are moments when I see the change God is making in young people’s lives and I cannot imagine doing anything else. Yet, there are also times when teenagers break your heart by making a terrible choice or decision. Those are the times when you consider working for a bank.
One particular truth that has really helped during these moments is my belief in God’s prevenient grace. This is the grace that goes before us. This is the grace that pursued us long before we accepted Christ. John Wesley asserted that God’s prevenient grace is the love that surrounds all humanity and precedes all of our conscious impulses. This grace produces our first wish to please God, our first ability of understanding God’s will, and our first conviction of having sinned against God. Furthermore, this grace stirs in us a deep longing for freedom from sin and moves us toward faith.
My deepening belief and trust in God’s prevenient grace has greatly impacted my ministry to students. I have realized over the years that the spiritual lives of teenagers are not in my hands. It is a great relief knowing that God has loved these young people much longer than I have. Furthermore, God has been working in their lives long before I ever met them. On one hand, understanding the beauty of prevenient grace removes some of the burden when my ministry is struggling. On the other hand, prevenient grace eliminates the temptation of pride when my ministry is going well. I am reminded that we, as pastors, are merely participants in God’s mission of redemption.