Every Nouwen Then in Youth Ministry

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If you are not familiar with Henri Nouwen, you need to be.  The writings of this former Catholic priest, University professor, and Spiritual Formation prophet have touched my soul and nurtured my spiritual life as a youth pastor like no other.  His words of grace have always been just what I needed to hear – just when I needed to hear it – to keep going through the trials and tribulations of this thing called youth ministry.

I share these words because…

Every Nouwen Then…

I get so focused on what I do that I forget who I am.

I get so focused on multiplication that I forget about transformation.

I get so focused on my role that I forget about my true responsibility.

And I get the feeling that I’m not the only one.  I think if we’re honest…

Every Nouwen Then…

We need to be reminded that, above all else, we are the Beloved.  And Nouwen reminds us that “being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence” (from Life of the Beloved).

We need to be reminded that our salvation and sanctification are not tied to our program.  And Nouwen reminds us that  “this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death.” (from Life of the Beloved).

We need to be reminded that that the Inner Voice of Love speaks louder and longer than the voices outside of us – from parents, pastors, PPRC chairs, and others who know us only in part.  And Nouwen reminds us that “You have to start trusting your unique vocation and allow it to grow deeper and stronger in you so it can blossom in your community.” (from Inner Voice of Love).

We need to take time to listen.

We need to take time to breath.

We need to take time to be.

Who we were created, called, and commissioned to be – In Christ Alone.

And Nouwen reminds us:

“The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of GOD…people who are so deeply in love with JESUS that they are ready to follow HIM wherever HE guides them, always trusting that, with HIM, they will find life and find it abundantly” (from In The Name of Jesus).

May it be so in our ministries and, more importantly, in our lives.

A Prayer for Us:

Oh God, my Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, Savior, Comforter, and Companion, I thank you for the unique calling you have placed on my life.  May I never forget who I am and, most importantly, Who You Are.  May I never forget the great promises of what You want to do in me and through me as I respond to You in trust and obedience.  But, when I do forget, please remind me.  Through Your Word and through Your people, remind me of who I am and Whose I am.  Remind me that You are the One who first loved me, so that I may love others in Your name.  In the name of Jesus, Amen.

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Trey has been in full-time ministry for almost 20 years and is currently serving as Pastor of Discipleship and Lead Pastor of Modern Worship at First UMC in his hometown of Murfreesboro, TN. He is married to Abbey, and they have two kids: Lilly Broox and William. Trey is also an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church, has a Master of Divinity from Asbury Seminary, and is finishing up a Doctorate of Ministry in Youth, Family, and Culture from Fuller Seminary. His passions are encouraging and equipping people to grow in their relationship with Christ and with others.

1 COMMENT

  1. Love your article. So thankful to be able to serve the youth with you and our great FUMY team. Blessings, as we all grow to love and serve Jesus this year ! Ill be finding a copy of the book you quoted. Blessed, More than just Nouwen then. ALWAYS !

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