I've been involved in a perfect storm of encouragement lately.
Fourteen years of my life was spent in what was known at my summer camp as Vocational Christian Service. I was employed by a series of churches to oversee the spiritual education of young people...this is commonly referred to as Youth Ministry.
A common issue that most youth ministers/youth pastors need to deal with is partially a result of the above phrase, "employed by a series of churches." With the average length-of-stay for a youth ministry professional sitting at around four years, the average youth ministry professional is doing a lot of planting, with very little reaping. In other words, you give and give and give...invest yourself in the lives of young people...and then move on before you can see any real, long-term results of your investment.
Now, as to the encouragement storm in which I have found myself:
First, there was a Facebook friend request from someone I didn't even remember, but who told me that I made a difference in her life when I was a dorm dad/summer camp counselor.
Then, a series of notes and emails from a few members of a couple of the youth groups I led back in the day, thanking me for things I had done or said or for the way I loved them no matter what.
The capstone of it all was spending a week with a guy who was a Wild Child when he was in my youth group in Southern Indiana and is now preaching at a congregation in Northern Idaho. When he stood up to read Scripture and pray...he didn't even get to his sermon yet, mind you...my wife (Beloved) and I both lost ourselves in joyful tears.
The cherry on the top of this sundae was when I read Hebrews 13:7 in the New American Standard Bible: "Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith." And I thought, "Yeah...that's what these guys have been doing...wow."
Truth is...I completely agree with Third John 1:4: "I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth."