I’m writing today from La Crosse, WI, site of the annual Wisconsin & Northern Michigan Assemblies of God Youth Convention, with about 18 students and a handful of other youth workers. It is hands down the best weekend of my year, and I wanted to share something that our speaker, Eric Samuel Timm, said last night that has resonated with me. He talked abou the Hebrew word ahavah, which means “to love” or “to give”, and talked about (among other things) how they are one and the same. “To love is to give and to give is to love.” Nowhere is that more true than in our calling of youth ministry.

To love our students is to give them our time, talents and treasures. To give them what we have to offer is to love them. It’s walking with them through the divorce that blindsided them, causing them to question everything they know and believe, down to their very identity. (As an aside, I highly recommend Andrew Root’s book The Children of Divorce if you want to understand how divorce affects even adult children; it’s a deep and tough read, but there is so much good stuff there to chew on.) It’s walking with them through the valley of the shadow of death, when a parent or other loved one, a close friend, or even a fellow student dies, and they need help to navigate the grief that they don’t understand. But it’s also sharing in the good times. It’s bringing along snacks for a weekend trip to share freely with them (my students know I’m always good for plenty of Mountain Dew and Swedish Fish). It’s celebrating with them when one of their friends or loved ones comes to a relationship with Christ. It’s rejoicing in the small things like an A on a tough test, or the milestones like earning their driver’s license.

To love is to give and to give is to love. Let’s live that out in our ministry to students.

As a footnote, I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know about the dynamic and engaging ministry Eric Samuel Timm offers. To find out more about him or to book him for an event, visit his website at http://www.nooneunderground.com/ or follow him on Twitter at @ericsamueltimm He’s also just released a book called Static Jedi, which I have not yet had a chance to read (my reading list is never ending) but I have heard awesome reviews and would recommend you pick up a copy and add it to your reading list. (For the record, Eric didn’t pay me to say any of this, and he doesn’t even know I’m writing this. I do hope he approves, though)