My Horrific Beginning as a Youth Pastor

It was 2001, and I was given my first chance to teach as the new HSM intern. As I look back, I feel like I spent months preparing that sermon, but it was probably only a couple weeks. The big day finally came and it was time to show the High School Pastor my notes.

He stood in front of me and read them over for a few minutes, furrowing his brow once in a while. He looked confused, even a little bit surprised.

“You can’t teach this. This isn’t what we believe as a church. You’ve got to teach something else.”

A few months later the church entrusted me with leading the Tuesday night outreach program for the Children’s Ministry. They were taking a big risk, but apparently they saw the potential in me. The program had hundreds of kids coming, and dozens of volunteers. There were two men leading the ministry before me who had to step out for good reasons, and they both agreed to help me transition in as the new leader. We scheduled an official “pass the baton” meeting between the three of us, where I’d get all the information I need and leave ready to own it.

As they both sat across from me I was nervous. Really nervous. I kept repeating that old phrase, “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called” over and over again. Apparently it worked because I calmed down… so much so that I fell asleep.

Right there in my chair. As they both watched.

“Did you just fall asleep?!”

Yes, yes I did.

A few months later I was super honored when they asked me to be the Junior High Director. I planned my first event, promoted it like crazy, spent hours and hours setting it up… and one kid showed up.

We had like 150 students coming to our gatherings every week as I took over, and none of them came, except this one kid.

Have you ever wanted to get away?

Ya.

Don’t ask me why, but we had set up hay bails in the back yard. Him and I went outside, along with the volunteers who were there, and we both somehow ended up standing on our own hay bail. Mine was about 5 feet from his, so I wondered… can I jump from mine to his?

I sure could.

As I landed on his bail it flipped, and so did he, landing really funny on the hard ground.

The fall broke both of his arms.

Think about this the next time you’re discouraged, or feeling like a failure. Remember me… and feel better about yourself.

3 thoughts on “My Horrific Beginning as a Youth Pastor”

  1. Wow that’s nuts!

    The whole time I was reading I kept thinking “at least you didn’t break a 6th grade girl’s arm with a dodgeball.” Then you destroyed me with a double arm break.

    Thanks Ryan.

  2. I am beyond grateful you were my Jr High pastor and luckily I got to sit under your teaching for a few years in high school as well. These stories only confirm how awesome you are. Thanks for always being a good example of someone who has energy FOR the Lord. And isn’t afraid to approach the unapproachable or chase the kids who just need a broken arm or two.
    I see Jesus in you in my memories! And I always smile and still talk about my pastor Ryan Guard.
    KEEP Having Horrific middles and ends-Cause you are winning some of them Ryan- God’s speaking through you in a powerful sweaty loud way.
    Thanks for all you do and have done. and for not breaking my leg.

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