When you’re in youth ministry, one of the hardest things to do is to let the natives take charge.
You, of course, are the chief.
You, of course, are in charge.
Normally, my personality takes the Type A tendency. Straying from my original plan typically creates an abnormal sense of stress and anxiety in my life.
But God is showing me a more excellent way.
While there’s nothing wrong with being prepared (we’re learning about that in a Bible study on Nehemiah), there’s also nothing to be compared with being spiritually flexible.
The times when I’ve allowed God to take control of my agenda, my agenda hasn’t mattered and something more important happened. God was glorified, not Dusty.
On most Sunday nights, I lead a youth Bible study at church, mostly at the youth’s behest. At times it’s very casual, such as when we’re studying Paul’s letters or the night we randomly, and perhaps foolishly, decided to start Micah blindly. At times, I have to apply more study and preparation, such as when we studied Revelation (phew!).
Last Sunday night, we gathered to hit our second week studying about Nehemiah. It was a beautiful spring evening here in Kentucky. I had just opened in prayer, and I was going over what we talked about the meeting before when someone made the comment about going outside.
More hopeful exclamations followed. All eyes were on me.
“But…” I made some lame excuse, thinking of all the DISTRACTIONS that were waiting for them outside. “How about next week?”
More blank stares, followed by the sensible, “But what if it’s bad next week?”
But the DISTRACTIONS.
“We can’t go out back. Bella (the pastor’s well-mannered Weiner dog) poops out there.”
“We’ll go out front and sit on the porch,” someone countered.
Oh, the DISTRACTIONS.
“Ok, let’s go outside.”
Some of the youth seemed a little shocked, fully prepared to be turned down by a grownup. They hustled outside before I could change my mind.
We all gathered around the steps on the porch to our Sunday School wing. Normally, they spread out one or two to a couch in the youth room, refusing to touch. On the steps, they were jammed close.
And me? I conducted Bible study with sunglasses on and loved every minute of it, grateful for good ideas that weren’t my own.
Were the youth productive in our study and contemplative enough? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
As for the distractions? You bet they were there. A mockingbird greeted us with his shrill cries of spring nest protecting. And the maple tree helicopter seeds were more than occasionally thrown into another’s hair, lap or open Bible.
But God still met us in Nehemiah. On the porch steps. On a sunny Sunday afternoon.
God meets us where we are, and I am pleased he used my youth to direct their sometimes stubborn youth leader.