” Ignorance is bliss” was a term first coined by Thomas Gray in his Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College. I may be the only one who feels this way, but as a veteran church youth worker sometimes I miss the blissful ignorance I was able to experience previous to social media. I do not say this as a technology hater, but as a person who loves social media and has an account on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even maintain my Myspace for a rainy day. I miss the days of ignorantly believing that every one of the students in my ministry was latching on to the things they were being taught and learning to live them out. I am such an optimist in most cases, I want to believe the best about people and believe that all of them are truly opening their heart to God. The world of social media sometimes robs me of my optimistic dream world as students so openly and truthful share who they really are on the world wide web.
Maybe this is just me, but my heart hurts sometimes when I read the words of those I shepherd online. It hurts so much because every part of me knows that the answers and joy that they are seeking in other places is found in allowing their head knowledge about Jesus to become a heart devotion that consumes their life. It hurts so much because many of them sit week by week and learn more head knowledge about Jesus, but never let him completely lead their lives. I wonder what it may have been for my youth leaders to have to sit and read the filth, doubts and soul searching I spewed from my mouth as a teenager.
None of these feelings I have come from a spirit of judgement, at least it does not feel like judgement in my heart. Every student means the world to me, whether they realize it, or I show it poorly. The passion of my life is helping people truly know Jesus, and I want that for every student that has ever been under my care. My heart breaks anytime a student walks away from church. My heart breaks anytime I see a student post things that dishonor Jesus. My heart breaks when a student can sit through service after service at my church and still miss Jesus. I used to be able to lie to myself and believe they were all getting it, but social media gives me a taste of reality. A hard reality. A reality I do not like to acknowledge.
I definitely see the great things that social media brings to my ministry. It provides so many great tools for communicating, relationship building, and getting a window into the students world. Maybe I am ignorant for saying this, but sometimes I wish the window was not so clear. Satan uses it often to whisper to me of my ineffectiveness. While many times my methods are ineffective, I know I serve a God who can change any life and that is what keeps me going. My calling will always be to show people Jesus and hear me clear that is exactly what I want to do. If you sometimes feel like I do cling to Jesus and your calling even when what is before you may not seem to be bearing fruit; those who you shepherd need you to keep going.
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