Wednesday, September 26, 2012

An Open Letter to All Christian Youth Leaders...(I really want to hear your comments)

First of all, I truly want to thank you for the service and sacrifice that you have given; for answering God's call and for working in the harvest field of teens and tweens...

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jMOSlH6PzPc/TcFMgj7oezI/AAAAAAAAAdQ/JqP53sN13Ys/s1600/praying-hands.jpgFor prayers prayed in the secret place, for firmness when these youngsters have acted out, for holding them gently when hearts are broken and cheering them on as you watch them "get it", for letting them see you worship, for letting them ask the hard questions and hearing you say "I don't know, but I'll ask God...", for being an example to them and a reflection of Jesus...

I think about what the books in heaven that God writes and are written in His Presence must say about these days of yours and secretly hope to read them with you and Him one day!

I have a story to share with you...
There was a man, a manager, who was working in a certain company that had branches throughout the world.  The branch he was part of was a minor part of the corporation, and was located in a remote area.  But this man liked his position and his job and was perfectly content in his place in life.  He ran his projects with exquisite administrative skill; his few workers assigned to him loved his organizational power, the smoothness that all their projects were always completed in; so they weren't surprised at all when the CEO of the corporation called their manager to company headquarters in order to oversee a new program that had been in the works.  The manager's new group was exponentially larger than the handful of employees he was used to and many had their own ideas about how to proceed with the R&D project that was already underway.  Immediately our manager saw he needed to go in a different direction than the group's previous leader had been going, in fact the entire reason the CEO had brought him into the situation was that the CEO knew the manager would accurately direct the project in the way the CEO knew it needed to go in order to be successful.  This new direction would ultimately allow everybody who was part of the project to interject his or her own unique style for the ultimate good of the company and the population who would use this system.  With the help of some of his old trusted workmates who had relocated with him, the manager began the monumental process of initiating the change. There was some resistance - persons who were loyal to the former leader didn't like the new manager, others felt their personal leadership and ideas were just as good or better than the new manager's, and others just went with the flow.  Small conflicts and office politics arose and yet the manager continued on, using the same skill set he had developed back home to keep the work moving along as well as encouraging the dissidents to work together for the good of all.  The CEO was pleased and had frequent conversations with the manager about the project, the people, and personal issues as well.  They became quite close as the work continued.  Occasionally, the entire group would be stumped as to how to proceed, even the manager, but the CEO could always see what was needed and would inform the manager during their daily chats, and he in turn would take the instructions back to the group and the work would move forward.  In truth, all the manager needed to do was to speak the word of the CEO; the resulting flow of ideas and connections and fresh innovations for the group was nothing short of miraculous.  

It became time to take the project out in the field.  The CEO placed the manager in charge and provided for the entire group to accompany him as they implemented the new program in the various company branches and other venues who were wishing to use it.  Their conversations continued on a daily basis, a good thing as implementing the new system and traveling brought new challenges and conflicts that needed to be worked through.  As always, the CEO was on top and knew what the entire group needed, trusting the manager to convey his (the CEO's) words accurately.  Some of the workers saw the gifts the manager had and aligned themselves with him, becoming his apprentices so to speak for they had vision to see that the new system and its benefits would extend far into the future, and they needed to learn the manager's strategies to continue the work and to train others who would come after them.  Others kept trying to implement the system in their own way, almost in opposition to the gifted manager.  It was these who stirred most of the group into grumbling and complaining when the travel and training seemed to reach an insurmountable problem which would effectively shut down the new system for all time, resulting in going back and redesigning the entire thing.  Most of the group were declaring "failure", only the apprentices stood by the manager.  Our manager, tired, stressed, and quite frankly, inconvenienced by the continual friction came back from his daily conversation with the CEO to address the entire group...and for the first and only time, his actions displeased the CEO.  The manager began by reciting to the group his feelings of the moment, "You are a rebellious group, will you listen to the solution!?" and he struck the podium with his hands, not once, but twice.  And as he shared the CEO's words, the solution did come forth and the entire group continued their tour of training and implementing the system.

But when it was time for the travels to end, and the group was going to be kept together in a brand new location that the CEO had provided to be the center of the new system (in order that anyone who wanted to learn it could come and train, then stay or take it back to their homes), the CEO had to tell our manager that he couldn't continue to lead the group there...the personal anger displayed that fateful day was not a true reflection of the CEO, and the vision, the history, that was to be written about the new system had to remain free from the idea that striking and anger was part of the new methods.

The CEO and manager remained close friends however, conversing often through the day, until the death of the manager...

This story is loosely based on the account found in Numbers 20.  I trust the history of Moses and the dealings with the people of Israel in the wilderness are familiar to you...



I know you are human, as Moses was, and I am glad you are willing to be a leader of such a similar mob of tweeners and teens!  But just as Moses, when tiredness and stress and inconvenience makes your words and actions less than grace-filled, less than a reflection of the truth of God's nature, I wonder about the far reaching effects of such...

There are Joshuas and Calebs in your care, watching and learning from you...there are others that will become strong men and women for God - Deborahs, Samuels, Hannahs, parents of Samsons and Ruths, worshipers like David and Bathsheba and Obed-Edom, prayer warriors like Nehemiah and Daniel...


When you are spent, and spent because you are working for and caring for our precious children's spirits, I pray that you see the heroes of the faith when you look in their eyes, when you listen to their words, especially their immature, hormone driven, less-than-stellar toned words...

A hand is reaching out in the sky for help Stock Photo - 11432611

You know this "unruly mob" is dealing with parents' divorces, bullying, peer pressure, perhaps domestic violence at home, and wondering if they should entrust you with a deep secret they have never told another living soul...just to name a few...and even tho' they have just had a great time, you don't really know what they are leaving you to go home to...

I pray that your words will "always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person"...

Party Poster Stock Photo - 11646326
The other night, you told my learning disabled daughter, when she couldn't recite certain information to you, that "you were not going to wait another hour for her parents to show up" and when she explained her dyslexia was interfering, you were curt with her again - you made your inconvenience her fault (in front of other youth I might add), and she is afraid to come back to youth because you promised her punishment if she didn't get this one certain thing right...something she struggles with because of her learning disability and doesn't have control over, an issue that we had provided for because she cannot control it, but again, on the leader's end, our provision was not available...

The good thing about her communication with you is that you assured her you would be talking to her parents about it, and as you can see, I want to talk to you about it...


We are not derelict parents who try to drop off our child every chance we can and leave them for as long as we can...in fact, unknown to you at the time, we were already on our way to the parking lot to be there when the bus arrived, so in reality if you had to wait, it was because of ALL the other parents in the same situation as us - not knowing the youth leaders had decided to come back early (and why weren't we sent a text while y'all were on the way back home? When the appropriate leaders HAD the information needed to do so?) - because when we picked our daughter up there were about a hundred other kids waiting for their parents...in actuality the problem was with the leaders, when they chose not to make the calls to parents or to text them.

In the large scheme of things, I have thanked God that it happened to her/us, because He knew how we would handle the situation, how I would speak to her and how I would speak to you.  Trust me, if she had misbehaved we would be taking measure to correct that misbehavior.  In this situation, I think I have made it clear that I am thankful for your serving of the Lord, of us parents, and of our children, but I am asking that next time, you just try to hold it together for that one more hour (when you think of one hour in the light of eternity, it is so small) and continue to see those tweens and teens as future faith heroes instead of an inconvenience...that that one more hour might be when that secret is told, or the special intimate moment with the Lord during the retreat is shared with you, that somehow, maybe, God wants to give you a divine appointment to treasure till the day you are with Him in heaven...that hour of inconvenience might just hold another entry into those heavenly books He writes about us...

I hope you have heard my heart in this letter; please call me after you have read this...


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I am hand delivering this at youth group tonight - what are your thoughts?

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