Itâ€™s time for youth group to start, and Iâ€™m running around like a chicken with my head cut off, finishing last-second details. (Sound familiar?) Deep inside, I know Iâ€™m telling every young person, â€œI donâ€™t have time for you.â€ But my to-do list beckons.
If someone naÃ¯vely dares to stop me, I nervously fidget and struggle to maintain eye contact because Iâ€™m worried about dropping the ball on the looming program. I peer over this mere mortalâ€™s shoulder and silently freak out as the countdown to start time nears zero. I pacify the person who caused this momentary diversion with a shallow promise to connect later in the week. Although I know that probably wonâ€™t happen, I desperately need to return to the important task at hand. Just to make sure Iâ€™m not stopped again, I take out my phone, participate in a ghost call, and resume my pace.
Ouch! Enough confessional time. Hereâ€™s my new plan to conduct Operation Slow-Down:
â€¢ I will ease my pace. Walk. More. Slowly. Resist the urge to end conversations quickly and move on to the next project. I want the pace of leisure to be my default and attentiveness to be my act of generosity.
â€¢ I will dial-in the program in advance. Work hard during the week so the youth service or meeting goes off without a hitch. Donâ€™t save last-minute details for when people are arriving. Make it a goal to be standing around, with nothing to do, 10 minutes before the first young person walks through the door. That way, youâ€™ll be ready to fully engage with kids.
â€¢ I will care about people and the program. Iâ€™m a program person all the way. Nothingâ€™s more exciting to me than sharing the timeless message of Christ in creative ways. Tension will always exist between presenting a top-notch service or meeting and spending time with people. But final details and adjustments shouldnâ€™t crowd out expressions of love. Care about the program, care about the creative elements, be proud of your innovative message or creative mini-movie that you spent several late nights sweating over.Â But be keenly aware of the people who might need you beforehand.
Trying to outdo yourself can become a vicious cycle. So stop walking around with such urgency. Instead, overflow with love for the listeners. After all, thatâ€™s who youâ€™re trying to reach.
Originally appeared in the May/June 2012 issue of Group Magazine. Donâ€™t get the magazine yet? Hit this link to subscribe and get in on the action today!