Last week I had the privilege of attending meetings for the ministry council of the National Network of Youth Ministries. Recently I was on staff with NNYM so it was kind of like a homecoming for me. It was great to see old friends and make new ones. One of the greatest joys was seeing and spending time with my friend Paul Fleischmann.
Transition in ministry is rarely done well, especially when one begins and leads a ministry as long as Paul has. Paul has been the president of NNYM since it began and is now in the process of transitioning the ministry to new leadership. As I watched him over the last few days I was amazing to see God's grace as Paul ushers in leadership for the future.
Let me say this, reaching teens has always been "cool" but Paul started in a time that was very different. In the early 80's there was less training and opportunity for those seeking careers in student ministry. For years Paul has led the National Network in giving the clarion call for youth ministries to work together to reach students for Christ.
I love to hear Paul talk about the "good 'old days" when a few met in 1979 in Colorado Springs. They met to think, pray and dream. They talked about what God was doing in the hearts of students around the country and how they might work TOGETHER to more effectively serve students and student ministry.
In 1981 a simple document was formed to communicate a commitment to personal, family and ministry values for those who love students. This same covenant has been signed by youth leaders for almost 30 years.
Paul is very unassuming in his leadership and has never sought credit for himself or the National Network. It seems he's always been most comfortable behind the scenes, influencing others to love students the way has has for decades. That's very refreshing in a day when self promotion and hope for stardom is fairly common.
I've been blessed to be under Paul's leadership. There's much to learn from men and women who have served youth ministry well over the last 30 years. Join me in honoring Paul and those like him who have paved the way for many of us who have a clear calling to love student to Jesus.