Remember the political ad this year about the phone ringing at 3 am? The question was whether a certain candidate would be ready to make a split decision. It was an interesting ad. .

Well, Friday night/Saturday morning, our phone rang at 2:30 am. I sleepily answered, and on the other end of the line was Jon, the intern from Huntington University that has been working with us for the last 6 months.

He told me that his landlord’s dad had passed away and there was a lot of movement in the house (their apartment is basically a part of a big house, and his landlord’s dad was living across the hall). He asked if they could come sleep at our house, since it was having a big impact on them.

There’s not much public transportation at 2:30, so I dragged myself out of bed and drove over and got them. This whole experience got me thinking about things. As usual, my thoughts turned to ministry, especially youth ministry.

What do you do when someone calls you at 2:30 in the morning? Almost nothing good happens that makes people call you at that hour. It’s usually always an emergency. It’s usually always bad news.

In youth ministry, we must be ready to take the call at 3 am. We must be prepared to make the split decision that will reach out and help someone who is in need. We spend lots of time planning life-changing events, but often life-change comes from an event for which we did not plan.

We also must be willing to be the ones they call at 3 am. In Jon’s case, he had nobody else to call (we’re pretty much the only other Americans they know). But in youth ministry, if we haven’t spent time with people and gained their confidence and trust, they won’t call us when they really need someone. They will look to someone else. We must make it part of our job to be the person they trust enough to call in the middle of the night or in the middle of a crisis.

So, what are you doing today to prepare for the 3 am phone call? Are you ready?

(Photo by Mylla on Flickr)