I will never forget the day I decided I would drive school bus. It was never something I had thought about, but a friend of mine really wanted to. It was my freshmen year of college and I was not thinking about getting a job. I was thinking about figuring out how this college thing worked. But, it wasn’t long until I had been hired and licensed as a school bus driver. As it turns out, driving school bus was a key part of shaping me for ministry and life beyond college. I just wasn’t aware of it yet.
I started on a bus that was cleverly named “the bus from hell” because it was the bus no one wanted. In fact, it had seen a cycle of drivers come and go because of this reputation. These kids were not very trusting of the drivers they had. I was excited for the challenge! To make matters even more interesting, the bus was full. It was not uncommon to have 65 middle and high school students in an 85 passenger bus. I know that doesn’t seem full, but when you consider the capacity is based on three in a seat, you know it is full.
As I went through my youth ministry classes in college, while driving bus, I came to realize that much of what I was facing on the bus was a picture of youth ministry. Many of the same issues I faced then I later faced in the local church setting. Some of the dynamics of families, conflicts and counseling I also saw in both places. Even the amount of time it really takes to build trust and relationships was remarkably similar. I even had a few overbearing parents for good measure. (Do you remember the story of Charlie?) People are people no matter where they are and I found that the bus drivers who had the most success were also the drivers who had respect for their students.
For the next Sunday Series, I am going to unpack some of what I learned driving school bus. It provides a nice story to revisit, but it also provides some conversation about student ministry. In many ways I miss my bus because the time was so authentic, fun, energetic and exciting. There were days I had to drive a little faster to get the kids off faster and there were days I had some very meaningful conversations on the bus. Like I said, much like a typical youth ministry.
This series will begin next week. I hope you find it to be interesting and encouraging. Have a great Sunday!