Hidden Heroes {Youth Pastor Edition}

 When I was a senior in high school, I loved going to youth group. We had a new youth pastor who was as rambunctious and energetic as his wife was soft-spoken and mild-mannered.

Together, they made a great team.

Soon after coming to our church, they bought their first home. With new paint and carpet, they were excited about fixing up their own place. My youth pastor’s wife had a blast picking out the colors.

However, they made the classic decision that many young couples make. Against all advice, they chose to have nearly white carpet installed. (I confess that Jeff and I did the same thing eight years ago when we bought this house. What were we thinking?)

Once my youth pastor and his wife were settled into their new home, they invited the youth group over for a party.

I enjoyed hanging out in the kitchen, helping my youth pastor’s wife serve food and drinks.Then, after a while, I decided to get some snacks and mosey into the living room. Carefully, I held my plate on my lap while I placed my cup of grape soda safely beneath my chair.

Twenty minutes later, I discreetly tried to make my way to the bathroom when I accidentally kicked my cup over. So much for discreet.

I’m not sure why I feel the need—20 years later—to iterate that this was an “accident.” Duh.

Besides, what difference does that make when a puddle the size of a basketball bears the indelible mark of my disgrace in a sparkling shade of permanent plum?

Desperate, and near frantic, I worked feverishly to sop up my mess while begging God not to let it stain.

God did not answer my prayer.

That’s when my youth pastor’s wife came to see what all the gasps were about. My white face was about as red as the white carpet was purple. I was near tears.

To assuage my fears, she put her hand on my shoulder and assured me that it was not a big deal. Naturally, I didn’t believe her. Of course it was a big deal! This was their first new home! It was brand new carpet! And I had ruined it.

But it wasn’t just the words she said, or the tone she said them in, it was her whole demeanor—the way she genuinely stayed calm. I could tell, much to my own surprise, that it wasn’t an act where, underneath the surface, she was flipping out while keeping a placid smile glued to a non-flustered face.

“Please,” she said, “don’t give it another thought. I wasn’t planning on taking that carpet with me to heaven anyway.”

Today, I can’t remember a single sermon the youth pastor ever preached—although I know I listened intently at the time. But I will always remember the grace his wife showed me when I was so undeserving. Her warmth and sincerity gave new meaning to Job’s words: I came into this world with nothing, and I shall take nothing with me when I leave (Job 1:21, paraphrase mine).

She showed me grace while also modeling the importance of not clinging to the material things of this world.

Now, whenever I have a guest in my home, and something happens to break or become stained, it’s a privilege for me to say, “Oh, don’t worry about that. I wasn’t planning on taking it with me to heaven anyway.”

* * * * *

There are heroes in our churches, hidden amidst the pews, serving behind the scenes. These heroes aren’t necessarily the ones preaching powerful sermons or singing spectacular solos. They’re the ones who hug kids and welcome strangers.

They’re the ones who invite you over for blueberry pancakes.
They’re the ones who hold your fussy baby so you can hear a sermon.
They’re the ones who memorize His Word while encouraging others too.

They’re the ones who extend grace and model kingdom principles.

Do you know a hidden hero in your church?
Is there someone you could be a hidden hero to?

I’ve been writing a series called “Hidden Heroes,” recalling the ones who have ministered to me personally in heroic ways.

Today, I am thankful for . . .

133. youth leaders who invest in teens
134. lessons learned in living rooms
135. Young Life mentors who have invested in my own teenage daughter
136. sweet talks with my sweet teen
137. family game night playing “Settlers of Catan”
138. the way Jeff makes the kids laugh
139. tortilla soup on a rainy night
140. the way the air smells after it rains
141. watching our kids play on our cul-de-sac with their neighbors
142. having neighbors over for dinner
143. starting a new Beth Moore Bible study this week

While reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I started keeping a list of the things I am thankful for.

19 thoughts on “Hidden Heroes {Youth Pastor Edition}

  1. Pingback: The Definition of an Enemy May Surprise You {It Certainly Surprised Me} | Denise J. Hughes

  2. Thanks for that post Denise- such an awesome story, and reminded me of good times at my youth pastor’s home years ago. I am thankful that I can read your blog on this blistery morning in Liping- thank you!

    • Monica! It’s wonderful to hear from you. We think of you and your family often. We really do.

      Most people around here would think I’m crazy, but honestly, I wish I could trade a little bit of our weather with yours. I think we have completely skipped winter this year.

      We hope to see you soon.


  3. “I wasn’t planning on taking that carpet with me to heaven anyway.”

    I love that! It really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? I think I’ll be using that line some time in the future, Denise ;).

  4. I’ve know many of those heroes in my life and so thankful for them! I only hope I can be one to others. I loved your story. I cringed when I heard grape soda after white carpet. What a graceful lady hero you had there! 🙂

  5. A lovely post. Sometimes we get so caught up in worldly things we forget that relationships are always more important. What a blessing for you to have learned that lesson from someone else and to now pass it on to others.

  6. This is a beautiful story, Denise! I’ve always enjoyed hosting big groups of people and serving food. This story demonstrates beautifully how the right attitude in hospitality can be quite a ministry.

  7. As soon as I got to the words “grape soda,” I went, “Oh, no!” I knew what was coming! (I read this on my email first, so I didn’t see your illustration at the top.) Oh, you poor teenaged thing! What a sweet pastor’s wife to love you through that disaster that way! And what a right answer about not planning to take the carpet with her to heaven. (smile) Yes, a hidden hero. Thanks for a sweet post.

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