We’re having fun hearing from friends in a blog series I put together called, 3 Things A Leader Taught Me
So far, we’ve heard from
and today, my friend
Carly Bartlett (she’s lovely, and her hair is rad).
I promise there will be some guys in the mix coming later in the week!
Mike started working with our youth ministry when I was in 7th grade. Mike was consistent, encouraging, and without hesitation, dove into the lives of students. Mike wore many hats. He was a multiple hour van driving, service project planning, volleyball coaching, small group leading, sleep-on-the-floor-during-a-mission trip, do whatever needs to be done, kind of volunteer. Most students called him by his first name. I called him Dad.
My dad started volunteering with the youth at my home church when I entered into the teen department, and he continues to this day. It has been 17 years and my dad, who is now a retired school teacher, is still a part of the youth ministry team.
I have been blessed to observe my dad in ministry for the last 17 years and these are three of my biggest take-aways:
- Be consistent. Consistency is invaluable. Whenever students walked in the door of our youth ministry on Sundays, they always knew that Mike would be there to greet them. When most things in their lives were unpredictable and chaotic, they could count on my dad’s presence and encouragement.
- Stay in it. You don’t have to grow out of youth ministry: All it takes is willingness, availability, and a heart to serve.
- Embrace the fun. Nicknames and a quirky sense of humor go a long way!
My dad has an incredible gift for making each person he comes in contact with feel special and valued. He is also the king of fun nicknames. For instance, when he was on a mission trip in San Francisco with our youth group a few years ago, he spent some time with a homeless man, who he nicknamed “Bob Marley.”A few days later, when my dad was in a completely different part of town, that same man sought him out and exclaimed with the biggest smile on his face, “Hey Mike! It’s me…Bob Marley!”
My dad is intentional to let others know that he “sees”them; they are not just one in the crowd, but they are a unique, special child of God. As I serve in youth ministry, I look to my dad as an example of what it means to truly “see”and serve. I know that there are countless “Bob Marleys”in my youth ministry who are waiting for me to call their name and journey with them as we corporately find our identities in Christ.
Thanks Carly. Such a great example you’ve found in your own home. I like the “stay in it” and “have fun” parts. All three pieces of wisdom are invaluable!
Carly Bartlett serves as a Young Women’s Pastor in the Boise, Idaho area. She is also a worship leader and speaker with Woods End Ministries, which she co-founded in 2012. Carly has a desire to empower teens and young adults to trust in the unwavering love and strength of God. She and her husband, Mike, love to travel, make homemade ice-cream, and run with their 90 lb. goldendoodle, Izzy. Carly tweets @barlycartlett or visit facebook.com/woodsendministries.
Thanks Carly for introducing your dad! We love him so much. What a beautiful picture of service!
I was a part of the same youth group your dad Mike, worked in.
He was very much an encouraging and awesome guy and never held back on telling you he was proud of you, in giving advice and questioning you to make you think! I am currently a part of mentoring teens in my own church and take some of the lessons Mike taught me into those Wednesday nights!
I was so surprised to see your picture on this blog and hope everything is just going great!