Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In Good Hands

My "Leadership Summit" experience last week went in a direction that I did not expect. I know Willow Creek and I was certain that the Summit would be first rate. I was not disappointed. But what really impressed me, what was really off the charts, came out of left field.

I spent the nights in the Chicago suburbs with Scott and Amanda. If you don't know my family, Scott is my son and Amanda is his amazing wife. They own a killer condo and I camped out in their spare bedroom. (I was nearly licked to death by their new dog, Wrigley. He's a great pooch and, yes, he's named after what you think he is named after.) And so each day I rode the half hour from their home to the church with Scott and his friends. His ... youth pastor ... friends.

I spent 33 years doing youth ministry. That's a long time. If I were a Marine I could retire by now. And I probably would be less tired than I am. I know youth ministry. I know it quite well. I don't mean that in a "Yea, me!" kind of way. But when you do something for over three decades you either figure it out or you don't make it. I made it. So I must, in some meaningful way, understand it.

So there I was, spending the entire days with this group of twenty-somethings. Guys half my age. Guys that work with kids because it's God's calling on their lives. Let me tell you something about these guys.

They are insane. They are hilarious. They are brilliant. They are passionate. They know God. They love God. They love kids. They know how to connect the two (God and kids.) They are dedicated to the point of driving themselves to exhaustion at times. They kept me silently shaking my head and thinking, "I can't believe these men and women." I do believe that watching them and interacting with them had a greater impact on me than what I viewed and heard from the stage. And I came away saying, "If this is the norm among youth ministers today, the young people of the church are in very, very good hands." Please understand, these guys are the cream of the crop or this church would not have hired them. But I don't believe that they are anything but fully representative of the young men and women that serve God in youth ministry throughout our land every day.

I left youth ministry because it was time. And somewhere deep inside of myself I wondered if the roof would cave in on the whole thing when I walked out the door for the last time. It did not. It will not. I am proud of these guys. I felt like a grandpa (which I most assuredly am) when I was with them and it did not bother me at all. Because I realized that it was the men and women that I worked with over the years in youth ministry that blazed a trail so that these "young en's" could be who they are and do what they do.

Excuse me just a second while I say something that I need to say. Something to men and women who probably do not know that this blog exists. But it needs to be in print somewhere. So I'm saying it here...

Jim. Mike. Roger. Ron. Carly. Ronn. Ed. Clint. Kling. Ed. Jeff. Vicky. Randy. Gary. It was a great ride. And we won THOUSANDS. We left it in good hands. Hands that are at least as capable as ours and hands that have far more tools than we ever dreamed of. Come to think of it ... seems to me that was how it was left to us.

Huh. Full circle. Just like it should be.


My son, Scott




Scott & Scott


Anonymous said...

thanks for the flattering pictures.

Kathy G said...

I wonder if YOU inspired "old" youth ministers when you were as young as those you hung out with?

Ron said...

To Scott... you are welcome. (Ya gotta give me more to work with.)

To Kathy ... I can only hope. There were not many paid youth ministers. But there were some passionate volunteers who worked real jobs and then gave their evenings to us. I owe them big time. (As well as some pastor's with a serious heart for teenagers.)