I am half way through the summer and I am already exhausted. While others slow down and catch their breath I think we move faster at our house. In our ministry we run day-camps for junior high age students and I coordinate mission groups of teens to come and serve with us. This summer we are running two sets of VBS in public housing projects in the inner city and three groups are coming to our programs in our building. In the meantime I have two High School age interns that I am pouring into, helping to run a HS girl’s small group and did I mention I live with a youth group? I have three teens at home who are volunteering, working, playing sports and in five hundred directions. This is not even everything that is going on in our lives. In the midst of it all I am learning some really important lessons about students, myself and Jesus.
I Can’t Give What I Don’t Have:
There are days when my eyes flutter open and I wonder why I have to get out of bed. Hours in the day need to multiply because I simply can’t always keep up. From the moment I wake up I have to reach for Jesus (even before coffee.) I am reminded my relationship with Him can’t live in a compartment. If I am not turning back to the Lord constantly in every moment in many ways then I am giving out of emptiness. This exhaustion gets worse when I rely on my own strength.
There are More to Teens than Meets the Eye:
I get this unique opportunity to hang out with students from all over the country as well as go deeper with some locally. Every single time I am in awe of how much more complex students are than I give them credit for. There is a longing to be closer to Christ and figure out what that means. Each personality seeks Him in a slightly different way. There are so many lessons I learn every day. I am challenged to not put “all teens” into any category but remember to listen to their hopes, fears and hearts.
Being a Servant is Hard:
We can show up and serve, but this is not being a servant. Laying down my life for my neighbor this is difficult. I have had to give up time, space, material possessions and pride so far this summer. Being a servant that will put teams, teens, my family and others constantly in front of myself attacks my comfort. I like being comfortable. Not everyone notices what you do, and your attitude has to be checked at the door.
I Am not in Control:
This has been a summer of letting go. Things rarely work out the way I think they will and I stress out about it. I would love to say I am one of those “go with the flow people.” I would love to say those words, but I can’t. God has proven to me over and again it’s His job to work on the hearts of people not mine. Instead, even when all of the details go awry He still shows up and shows His glory.
My biggest lesson so far this summer has been to remember people before everything else. I can do lots of amazing things and provide loads of awesome programming and totally forget that without people none of it matters. We are only half way done and I have so much more to do. If Christ isn’t at the center of it all, then what’s the point?
What lessons are you learning half-way through your summer?