Pray for Pranks!
Just last week I received a prank call from some of my middle school girls. They giggled their way through telling me that they were the local “pizza place” and that my order was ready. When I questioned them they quickly abandoned their story to tell me that they were trying to prank call me. I hung up the phone with a huge smile on my face.
When I was in high school my best friends and I pulled a lot of pranks. The target was always Mike, our youth pastor and mentor. Mike was really good natured about our adolescent idea of a good time…and on more than one occasion pranked us back. Mike understood that beneath the high jinks was a message of genuine care.
There is one particular prank sticks out in my memory…most likely because it was a total failure. One night my buddies Jon and Eric and I set out to toilet paper Mike’s trees and fork his lawn. We parked the car about 100 yards up the road from Mike’s house to avoid detection and ran in the cover of shadows giggling like little girls. We had all of the trees in the front of his house covered in TP and were about half way done forking his lawn when we could see the lights of a car coming down the road. We all hit the deck and waited for the car to pass. I remember being so proud of our work and being filled with excitement …I am pretty sure that the Mission Impossible theme song was on repeat in my mind. As the car drove by we saw that it was a police cruiser. This made the night much more exciting and we silently got up to celebrate our ninja-like sneakiness. A few seconds later we could see red and blue flashing lights in the distance…we had forgotten about my parents’ car that we parked on the side of the road. We peered around the corner to see a trooper, flashlight in hand looking through the windows and writing down the license plate number.
Our prank was no longer funny…we were no longer giggling. The police now had evidence that could point back to us…and even worse…they could call my parents. Our boyish bravado melted away into anxious chatter. In that moment the only reasonable thing to do was to go to Mike and tattle on ourselves. We ran to Mike’s front porch and rang the doorbell numerous times. Mike came to the door half asleep (probably because it was close to midnight) and his eyes widened when he saw the fruits of our mischievous labor. We told him that we were here to prank him and that we were almost done when the police saw our car…we sheepishly explained that we woke him up because we didn’t know what else to do. As mike listened to our story a big smile crept across his face. He started to laugh and simply said, “Well, clean it up.”
Just when Jon and I hoisted Eric into a tree to take down the TP a police spotlight hit us. It was like being caught trying to climb over the fence of a penitentiary. The police approached Mike, who was still standing on his front porch with a big smile on his face, and asked if he would like to press charges. Mike explained through a wide grin that we were like his sons and that he was our youth pastor. A police officer took down all of our names and upon hearing mine explained that my dad was his doctor.
You might be wondering why I have taken the time to write this story. It is not to encourage students and leaders to engage in prank warfare, but to simply comment on what should be a positive ministry indicator.
My friends and I spent many evenings planning our pranks on our youth pastor. In the moment I never thought about our motives for pranking Mike. Pranking him just seemed like a great idea and his status as our beloved youth pastor made him the obvious target. Now, I understand that these acts of juvenile tomfoolery were actually a symbol of affection and acceptance. It was our way of showing Mike that we cared about him. Our pranks showed him that we had reached a special place in our relationship. It showed that we were thinking about him and more importantly that we trusted him.
Now that I am a youth pastor and a mentor I can see these pranks for what they actually are…symbols of adolescent trust, care, and affection. I encourage you to not write off these small experiences. They can be a great indicator of positive relational growth with students. I pray that God will show you how you are impacting your teens…I pray that you will be prank called, toilet papered, forked and that you will be able to enjoy every second of it.
Posted on December 16, 2011, in Cultural Issues, Leadership and tagged Christianity, Church, Church Ministry, Family Ministry, Pastor, pranks, Religion, Student Ministry, Youth Ministry, Youth Pastor, Youth Work. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.