Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


I told you yesterday that I’m not the hugest fan of graduation ceremonies.  Both of my boys who are graduating were also giving speeches.  They both did GREAT!!  I really couldn’t be prouder of TJ and Tyler. Then today, shortly after TJ’s speech, i got this twitter from Danny, a friend of mine who is also a youth pastor at local church in our community:  “congratulations.  TJ did a great job with his speech. You should be one proud dad.”

That tweet was super encouraging and got me thinkin’… youth pastors often go to events for students in their ministry.  I have done my fair share of that, seemingly less now that my own 5 kids have so many things they need me at.   But nevertheless, when you do go to them, sometimes it can feel like an exercise in futility that no one will notice because there are often hundreds of people also there to watch.

So, here’s 4 ways to make the most of a ministry obligation so it doesn’t feel like a waste of time.

BE NOTICED:  This does not mean become a spotlight that everyone sees.  It just means that if you show up to an event and never make sure you’re seen, the “wasting of time” feeling will rapidly increase. Don’t come and then go away without first making sure your presence was scene by the one you came to watch. Danny’s twitter is one way to do that.  I never actually even saw him.  It was specific enough and subtle enough to tell me, “Hey, I’m here” supporting this moment.

ENCOURAGE:  Send an encouragement note, a text, an e-mail, a twitter comment… pretty much anything will do. But just make sure you encourage those  who you came to see in a timely manner.  My friend’s twitter did this too.

DON’T STAY FOR EVERYTHING:  Sometimes you have to, but most of the time, you can pick and choose.  Come for the first 30 minutes of graduation or the last quarter of some sporting event.  I have no idea if Danny left.  But I would have.  In fact, we sent one set of grandparents to go on a 35 minute walk to starbucks and bring some back while the name announcing went on and on.  TJ was called liked about 10 people into another 500 names- so we had A LOT of time to kill.  If you’re not family, just come for part of an event.  It will still make a huge difference and save you tons of time.  Besides, most people won’t expect you to stay for all of a swim meet or a 4 hour track meet or a 3 hour graduation.  Check with the student and come at the optimal time for them.

TAKE PICTURES: this is a great way for you to be “seen”.   Send a picture you snapped as an encouragement.  Put it on facebook and tag them.  Lots of options here.

To that end, here’s some pics I took today… that I’m sure will be great memories for TJ cuz I took them while I was bored stiff listening to hundreds of names being called. :))  Ha Ha.  My 300 mm zoom searched the audience for randomness. I have no idea who most of these pics belong to… but enjoy:

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