why i do what i do

Today our youth ministry went to Six Flags. Now, I realize that after reading the title, an initial reaction to that first sentence is probably something along the lines of: “No wonder you do what you do. It must be nice to get paid to go to Six Flags.” And while that may be true, there really is a bit more to it than that.

To be honest, today was a pretty lousy day considering the weather. It was cool and rainy all day. In addition to this, I got stuck with “that” group. You know, the group that goes to the theme park and doesn’t want to ride the rollercoasters (okay, three of the five didn’t want to). And yes, this was a group of 8th and 9th grade girls (all the guys divided up with Jim and Jason).

However, I looked forward to the day because I don’t usually have the chance to be around these students in this context. Usually I’m limited to the front of the room during the message or with a “hello”/”what’s up?” before service. While we had a great time just hanging out, it was the “in between” times that were really meaningful.

At one point, one of the girls and I chose to wait while the other students went on a ride. After just a moment of silence she proceeded to fill me in on some details of her life. It was stuff that she wouldn’t normally talk with me about, but for some reason, she felt compelled to share some of her dreams, hopes (and in a way) fears about life.

It wasn’t a planned conversation. I didn’t prompt her with questions. It just occurred “in between” everything else that was going on. Just a few sentences about life in the midst of crazy rides and lines of people.

These “in between” moments occurred all throughout the day with each of the students in my group. Granted, they weren’t all as personal as this encounter, but they were meaningful none the less.

And that’s why I do what I do. It’s for the “in between” moments. It’s for those unplanned times when a student opens up and is authentic. It’s for the moments when a student can share their fears, frustrations and hopes. It’s for the opportunities these times bring when I can speak into the life of a student and offer encouragement and support.

Six Flags was a blast today: I’m still dizzy from spinning in the Tea Cups. And even though we have a ton of great events planned for the summer, I’m really just looking forward more “in between” times.

Author: erik

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3 Comments

  1. Wow wow wow. That’s so awesome!
    And for them to just open up like that must mean that they really trust you to listen with a soft heart. That’s soooo worth the rain and the teacups! LOL! You and Bethany are so annointed. 😉

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  2. i think the teacups are in disney world. if i remember correctly, it may be sombrero’s at six flags.

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  3. I think this is what George has been teaching us about “community”. It would have been hard to have the opportunity to really speak to students when you are “sitting in rows looking at the back (or in your in case the front) of someone’s head. Keep up the good work. I think kids really to want to talk but sometimes we need to listen more.

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