I was once in a Beth Moore Bible study where Beth talked about two kinds of people. She said some of you are not getting involved in serving your church and you need to step up and get involved. Then, she said others of you need to step back because you are in the way of allowing someone else to step up. Her comment for the second type of person really struck me because I am the kind of person who always steps in and gets involved. I never thought about my over-involvement as preventing someone else from serving. This lesson was lived out during the missions trip to Chicago.
Although the youth had not been very involved in any pre-arrival preparations for the VBS program, the plan was to assign them all to specific roles and have them prepare their own areas. My goal was to entrust the work to the youth, rather than do it myself. Sometimes there was only one way to complete a task and I just had to provide the instructions. Sometimes, there was an end goal, with no specific plan of how to accomplish it. I would talk through ideas with the youth and have them come back to me once they came up with a plan. There were many times when I had to force myself to walk away and allow the youth to take the lead, even if it might mean failure on their part. I had to step back so that I wasn’t preventing the youth from becoming the responsible, mature young people that they are capable of being. This was not an easy thing for me to do!
In some ways, my other challenge was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to step back in many ways. Being 8 months pregnant, there were many times when my physical condition required that I sit down and rest. Not only did I have to step back to allow the youth to step up, but I had to sit down and put my feet up. I couldn’t micromanage them, to make sure they were doing their tasks the way I wanted them done. I had to trust that they were getting the job done. Fortunately, the One who called them to serve on this team is FAITHFUL and it is He who equipped and sustained them through a busy, challenging, and exhausting week!
Unlike many VBS programs I have been apart of, where the youth were merely junior helpers or assistants, in many ways, the youth were running the program. Sometimes there was an adult helping out, but other times it was solely on the youth to make sure their part of the program ran smoothly. I was so proud to watch them rise to the challenge and become leaders along the way. I am so glad that God enabled me to step back and get out of the way, to allow another generation of His followers to learn how to become leaders in His church.
I want to share two examples of how the youth grew in maturity during the trip. Every day after the VBS program was done, we would gather together for lunch and spend some time debriefing how the morning had gone. This gave the adults an opportunity to guide the youth as they were taking on the responsibilities of running the program. It also gave the youth an opportunity to both affirm and critique one another. Instead of being frustrated or complaining/gossiping about things that didn’t go well, we had a forum where frustrations could be voiced in a constructive way, with the goal of improving the VBS program, not tearing one another down. On top of that, the youth and adults also affirmed one another in what was done well. This was probably one of my favorite times of the day, listening to the youth build each other up with encouragement and praise. You could see in the faces of the youth how much the peer affirmation meant to them.
The second example was one evening while we were debriefing in the van about the day and decided to stop and pray together for some specific requests. I know many of the youth are not comfortable to pray out loud in front of others, but the majority of them not only courageously prayed aloud, but their prayers were a reflection of their maturity and spiritual growth. I was blessed to be apart of that corporate prayer time.
This missions trip to Chicago was a blessing to so many – our team, Christ Our Savior Church, and the children who attended the VBS. Thank you so much to everyone who supported us financially and through prayers!