In the Midst of Wolves


By Travis Hill

Wolf HowlSometimes the world can be overwhelming. Like any other “job”, ours as pastors, youth leaders, high-capacity volunteers, or interns goes through the same highs and lows as any other.

But there is a unique challenge in what we do: our work often leads us to weariness; and we feel when we are weary (or the event or program didn’t go as well as it could, despite our planning) the business of ministry often ends up in the way of communion with others and God. And then we feel ashamed, that we’re not good enough or we should move on to something else.

Do you ever stop to think why the turnover rate for youth workers is so abysmal? Is it simply that churches are hiring subpar youth workers? Or are youth workers simply being run off by church politics and unspoken expectations? Of course there are numerous factors, but couldn’t one of them be this tension: when we feel dissatisfied with some aspect of our ministry or internal lives, we run? I think so.

Yesterday, I came across this statement from St. Ignatius of Loyola, I would rather have God’s servants remarkable for virtue than for numbers, and manifest rather by the reality of their service than their repute for it. And while St. Ignatius seems to be speaking specifically of numbers of people, what if he isn’t? A major internal revolution that has hit me over the last few years is the idea that God’s not about numbers, but about hearts. And not hearts in the “let’s all turn to Jesus” way, but hearts in the way of “overflowing with love that slowly infects the corrupted world around us, changing it from the inside out.” What if St. Ignatius is telling us that it is more desirable to be a virtuous, remarkable youth worker than one who is constantly going, beaten down and worn out, frazzled beyond measure and on the verge of quitting?

These thoughts remind me of this passage from Luke 10:1-3, After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.”

We have been appointed to go forth and proclaim this revolutionary love of God. We are few, but the lives we have changed through out efforts in the 30 Hour Famine are incalculable. Rely on that. See the incredible smiling faces of the students who finally get to eat on hour 30. Imagine the faces around the world, standing in the midst of the wolf known as world hunger, as they experience the problem being slowly chipped away. It’s not perfect, and we’re nowhere near finished yet, but we are the few laborers. And through this, we are in the midst of wolves ourselves. Don’t worry about numbers; be concerned with hearts. Don’t fret about programming; fret about life-change. Be blessed, so you may be a blessing to others.