This past Thursday through Monday, Trent and I and Sonny, another youth volunteer at our church, were in Nashville, TN (yeehaw!) for the National Youth Workers Convention. It was super. Here was my first clue that I liked these convention planning people:
Scheduled nap time? My kind of convention. I did not actually take advantage of this repeatedly scheduled block but did snooze on a bench in the convention center at one point with my backpack for a pillow and my hoodie for a blanket. (I suppose it wasn't a hoodie because it had no hood) There were several others around doing the same thing. Must have looked like a bunch of homeless youth workers.
I say the convention was great, meaning I got lots of good information and training, bought a book on ministering to teenage girls in this crazy world, enjoyed the speakers, enjoyed the entertainment, really enjoyed the worship (more on that later). I enjoyed rehashing stuff with Trent and Sonny at the end of the day, over delicious food.
But this convention was great for ME personally. It was a kick in the butt, a shot in the arm, whatever you want to call it. I am jazzed. I am psyched. I guess I'm on a high but I'd really like to think it will stick around. See, highschool was a really good time for me spiritually but then college happened and life happened and it kind of went away. Life happening is no excuse for losing touch with God. I settled into going through the motions outwardly but there wasn't much going on inwardly. And that's no fun. It's kind of like "what's the point?" When you see no point, it's hard to continue. I caught the point again this weekend. It's not just about me + God anymore and spiritual habits or lack thereof. I am endeavoring to invest in the lives of young people, alongside Trent and Sonny and others. What does a spiritually blah investor have to offer them? Sure I could offer some advice about friends or drama or life maybe, but that shouldn't be all. I want these kids to have a genuine hunger for God like I did in highschool. And unlike me, I want them to carry that hunger into college and beyond.
I might be making this sound like my motives are to bypass myself, to simply go through motions with a new vigor so that I can be a good example. I'm not neglecting myself and what this new jazziness can jumpstart for me spiritually. It would be kind of stupid and misleading to play the part of spiritual mentor and put on a face of knowledge and connectedness when you are actually spiritually blah and just putting on a show. I'm hoping to awaken those places from (wow) 7 years ago and genuinely grow and learn. And then if I am able to pass that along in some positive way to others, super. In the meantime, I'll keep working on myself.
Maybe the spiritually blah place is a good place to mentor from too. Maybe it's a place to realize "let's be spiritually blah together, but let's try to fix that...together." It's a vulnerable place, a place where you have to show a youth that you really don't know all the answers and don't have it all together. But it's a chance to show that you are willing and wanting to grow alongside them. How cool would that be? Start from the ground up and figure stuff out together. I bet a youth would be more willing to meet you in that place that try to track with an "I know all the answers" attitude. Well hurrah, cuz I'm starting from the bottom again and working my way through this stuff afresh. I'm eager to see who wants to come with me.
I realize my blog just took a turn to the serious and I am airing some laundry (though not necessarily dirty), but I hope people are ok with that. Hey, it's my blog. I can mix pictures of cute hats with thoughts on God and ministry if I want to! If you are ok with it, feel free to comment with your thoughts and stay tuned for some more of my thoughts and pictures from this past weekend including: the power of powerful worship, community in a common purpose, being a husband and wife team in this ministry, and why I like Nashville.
Happy (almost) Thanksgiving everyone!