Now that our oldest is almost four years old, I try to let her know what I do all day at my job. (Because based on what she witnesses when she visits Daddy at work, all Daddy does all day is eat great snacks and draw on his white board. Well, maybe that's not as far off as it seems.) But here's the problem: How do you explain what a youth pastor does in a way that a four-year-old can understand?
At first, it doesn't seem like all that difficult a task. But it's harder than it seems. If you've got a spare four-year-old handy, give it a try. I'll wait.
See? It's hard! If I want to provide anything to my kids other than a trite or condescending explanation of what I do in my job, a little more thought is involved.
I hang out with teenagers, honey. Well, true, but that doesn't really get at why I do what I do.
I tell people about Jesus. I certainly hope so. But do I want to convey that you have to have a job at a church in order to tell people about Jesus?
I serve Jesus with my spiritual gifts of sleep deprivation and pizza consumption. That's kind of grasping at straws, and a perhaps bit too stereotypical.
When I first tried to explain to our oldest child what I do all day, the realization hit me that if I can't explain to a four-year-old what I do, perhaps I need a better understanding of my role as a pastor and what God has called me to. No, I can't explain every nuance of my job to Bethany and Samantha, but I should at least be able to give a decent big-picture answer.
What about you? How would you explain to a four-year-old what you do all day and why you do it? If it's tough to come up with a simple one-sentence answer that at least gets at the heart of what you do, maybe you need to better understand what God is asking you to do in the place where he has you right now. Or maybe you just need to spend some time recalling why you started this crazy job in the first place.
And in case you're wondering, here's my current answer to Bethany (the answer occasionally changes because I struggle with it, too): "I help people serve Jesus and help them tell everyone they can about him, honey."