At one of the last tournaments during our senior Bible quiz season, I was convicted. That conviction came over me suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, and it still has not left me.
The experienced division was finished quizzing for the day, and we were waiting on the intermediate division to finish before we could begin the awards ceremony. As quizmaster, I decided not to waste any precious time so I asked the experienced teams if they wanted to quiz all-star style. I mixed up the teams by pulling names at random, and the quizzers who were not picked served as coaches and judges. I began reading questions, and we were all having a wonderful time quizzing in this unpressured—thus unfamiliar—environment.
When each quiz was over, I drew more names, created fresh teams, appointed new coaches and judges, and started again. After a few quizzes, one quizzer named Benjamin asked if he could take my place as the quizmaster and facilitate the quizzing. I was happy to let him take over since my throat was sore from talking all day. As I watched Benjamin quizmaster, conviction hit me like a tidal wave.
Am I actually investing in the youth of this generation? Yes, I’m my state’s senior Bible quiz coordinator. Yes, I serve on our district youth committee with my husband. Yes, I volunteer at three youth camps in the summer as well as multiple youth rallies and conventions throughout the year. But why do I do all this? Is it because I want to see students devote their lives completely to God and to the Truth? Is it because I enjoy spending time with and influencing students? Is it because I’ve been involved in youth ministry for so long and just do it without hesitation?
These were my reasons, and they are not bad reasons. However, the conviction that overcame me reminded me of a purpose I had forgotten. Everything I was doing—every Bible quiz tournament, every youth camp, every holiday youth convention—was to mold the next generation of youth. The generation I am currently serving will be the ones to take the torch from my hand and light the way for the generation after them.
As conviction rolled over me and I watched Benjamin quizmaster, I asked myself, “Whom am I influencing?” In whom am I personally investing? Am I preparing someone else to take the baton I’ve been carrying for the past few years? Conviction was telling me I had to do more than just be involved in youth ministry. Planning rallies, working at camps, and reading questions was not enough: I needed to take an active role in preparing the next generation to be the leaders God wanted them to be.
Before I saw Benjamin quizmaster, I had never thought once about who would replace me once I hung up my quizmaster cloak. Now, every time I see a Bible quizzer, I wonder if they will one day take my place behind the podium. When I looked out over the sea of faces at youth camps this summer, I wondered which of them would serve on the district youth committee one day. As I serve at my local church, I examine the young people around me and ask myself which of them will assume my various ministerial roles.
I do not know which young people will take the reins, but conviction warned me to personally invest in young people, else there might not be anyone to step up. Just as I had influential people invest in me by spending time with me, teaching me, counseling me, and giving me responsibilities, I need to be doing the same with the students of this generation. Our young people are not helpless: we do not have to handle them with kid gloves. They want to serve, they want to grow, and they want to be used. It’s time we acknowledge that and begin involving them in the Kingdom of God and in our ministries.
Whatever your ministry or calling, involve a young person. Personally invest in the youth of the next generation. Begin training them now, so when it is time for you to pick up another cross, they are there to carry yours. Someone personally invested in you and me. Now is the time for us to do the same.
Taylor Locke is a member of Apostolic Praise in Fort Myers, Florida, pastored by Les Bruce. She and her husband, Phillip, serve on the district youth committee and are the senior Bible quiz district coordinators. In addition to church and district activities, Taylor enjoys baking, crafting, and thrifting.