brain farts, Life in youth ministry, Uncategorized

Incomplete

incomplete

Does the word ‘incomplete‘ stress anybody else out? Leaving tasks or jobs or assignments only half-done, or slightly attempted? This is something that really irks me – really pushes my limits. Even if it’s just the laundry – bringing in the dry stuff, but not going the next step and actually folding and putting it away. Bringing it in is only half the job. It’s incomplete. Blegh.

The last few weeks have been filled with assignments, readings, power-points and even some oral presentations as I squelch my way through an intensive Certificate IV. I worked my rear end off in the first 2 weeks to stay up to speed with everyone in my class who was able to attend face-to-face sessions whilst I was not. I submitted stuff, I worked into the wee hours and I bailed on things like vacuuming and doing the dishes.

This meant my house felt incomplete. It meant my weeks felt unfinished because I hadn’t done what I usually do.

Then I got – by the grace of God – to the final sections of this course (which has been a struggle at the best of times) and realised there’s a possibility I may not complete it due to some of the final requirements. So my house is back to being completed on a weekly basis, but now my assignments and my course may go incomplete.

Anyone else feeling that tension? Urgh. The very thought that I worked so hard for something that might now actually not eventuate brings on the tears and the panic and the guilt. The ‘incompletness’ of it makes me feel like I was never going to be good enough to finish it in the fist place, so why did I try? Why did I try something new?

During my latest episode of stress induced guilt and tears (or was it guilt induced tears and stress…?) over it all, this memory flashed into my mind:

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A lovely friend had this made up for my birthday. It’s one-of-a-kind. Hand-made. Unique to me and created for who she knows I am. And you know what? I got a little perspective. I am not this course – complete or incomplete. I am not the vacuuming – done or not done. I am not the washing or the folding or the dishes or the gardening…I’m actually none of the things that I put such incredible pressure on myself to have complete.

I’m the sort of person who gets lost, pretty quick, in the concept that my feelings or my actions or even my thoughts or what someone says about me is what I am.

God’s Word says the opposite though – there’s so much more to who I am in Christ than what I can complete. I am actually enough already, regardless of whether the washing gets done today or not.

And I am enough already regardless of whether I get a full course completion or not. Who am I performing in the course for anyway…? God? Me? The facilitator? My boss? At the end of the day, the skills and knowledge that I learned along the way aren’t forgotten because I may or may not get a piece of paper at the end. The people I met and the conversations I had during that time aren’t nothing. Every experience I have is worth it because I learnt something and it was were I was meant to be at that time…so complete or not, I guess what I’m learning now is that the outcome doesn’t define my worth or competence.

Completing the course doesn’t define my abilities and role as a student or an employee and completing the dishes or the laundry doesn’t define my abilities and role as a mother and wife either…I. Am. Enough.

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Life in youth ministry

Collision and Kaleidoscope

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Today marks a year in youth ministry. Four school terms. Two semesters. One Easter Camp. One Fourth of July shindig. One Murder Mystery Dinner. Countless Bible engagement nights. Four small group activities. Two state Baptist gatherings. One AWESOME leadership team.

It’s been a year of souring highs – Friday nights where you leave elated, on fire & with more energy than you had after two coffees at lunch…but also of crushing lows, leaving you wondering ‘am I actually where I’m meant to be?’ I’ve served alongside some incredibly inspiring people whose hearts for the Lord will continue to astound me and it’s been my privilege to learn from those who have been in the field longer than myself too, watching them work, mingle and love the youth that God brings to our church family.

Reflecting on an insanely outstanding hear, there are a few things that I have learnt along the way that I hope will stay with me and be a part of next year’s youth ministry journey…

1) I’m not good at small talk. I get flustered. I don’t really know where to start & I get tongue tied…but even in my inability to communicate sometimes I found that this year, a lot of the best conversations I had stemmed from my persistence with small talk. I fought back. I ignored my desire to run the other way, and instead engaged in conversation with top-notch leaders, friends and youth kids. Sometimes I ask God for deeper conversations with people and He gives me opportunities to foster this through small talk.

2) Power really is a drug…better keep that one in check! There’s a fine line between tripping out on power and just being a good and efficient leader sometimes and I’d hate to think that I enjoyed being in charge so much that I spun out of control. Being aware of my abilities and limitations as a leader should never be tossed aside in favour of a prestigious title or tight reins on fellow workers.

3) It really IS all about the kids. End of the day – I wouldn’t HAVE a job if they weren’t around. Everything we prep during the week, everything we plan and execute and buy and set up and pray over and organise and dream is all a waste if it isn’t with the kids in mind. God has placed us each in this ministry field to LOVE and SERVE them, and if we’re merely planning events that mean they’re out of their parents hair for one night or they aren’t at home playing Xbox or surfing the web, then we’ve missed the point. They, as young people with incredible potential and who are crazy-loved by their Creator, are the reason we do what we do. Not the ‘tick the box’ mentality or the fun we have (though that’s a real bonus!) or how good it might all look on a resume…the eternal nature of what we do with and for these kids is the big reason. God in their lives is what it’s about.

4) Pray. I forget this. I get wrapped up in tasks, in lists, in making sure things are ready to go when the time is right that prayer seems like just ‘something else’ I’d better do. But if I STARTED all of that – all of my to-do lists – with prayer, it might actually feel less like a chore and more like a kick-off. If I started everything I have to organise off with prayer, then everything that I had to organise might not feel like such a chore either…and my heart realigns with point 3) above – why God has got me doing what I’m doing and who it’s all about.

I’m sure there are a bunch of other lessons I learnt this year, but at the moment as I think back over this past year in what I can safely say has been just an amazing journey filled with God’s timely blessings, these are the most standout tonight. The year has been a collision of ideas, movements, desires, trials and adventures. It’s been a kaleidoscope of emotions and experiences – from uni to youth ministry to friends and family. There are tidbits to be picked up and cherished in every adventure and every journey, and I’m thankful for everyone that I experienced 2014 with and every lesson that God has gently brought me to and through…

2015, what do you hold…?

(Image courtesy of Pinterest…)

Life in youth ministry

Learning to laugh

A few weeks ago, I wrapped up a 52 week blog project and since then I’ve been searching for something new to write about that strengthens my writing skills but still offers a platform to share where I’m at on a semi-regular basis…that was a bit of a mouthful, but I think I’ve got there!

For those of you who don’t know, I’m employed as a youth worker in my church family 2 days a week. I’ve been in the job just over 6 months now & I think I can safely say that I LOVE it! There’s something truly special about working with young people; to see them as a generation and as individuals connect with God’s Story. I have the privilege of seeing them grow in their faith, develop lasting relationships with peers and gain a better understanding of their part to play in God’s kingdom. It’s a pretty amazing and fulfilling job, even if it is exhausting! 😉

So I thought perhaps this would be a cool space to write musings, thoughts, lessons and experiences surrounding my time as a youth worker – to inform and encourage and truly acknowledge that I am so blessed to have this amazing job opportunity! My first post is learning to laugh…and I mean this in the sense that I’m learning to laugh at myself.

Are you like me? Do crowds make you nervous? Does speaking in front of others get you all jelly-like? Does saying the wrong thing or tripping up or getting an answer incorrect make the pit of your stomach feel like it’s full of lead? Yeh…welcome to my life. And when you work with young people, this doesn’t always partner up so well. So I’m in the process of handing over those feelings of inadequacy and awkwardness to God and exchanging them for joy and laughter. I’m learning to laugh at my own mistakes, at my own failings, at my own blunders. I’m learning to be more light-hearted, smile and enjoy what’s going on around me rather than focusing on what I feel I’ve done wrong. And I get things wrong a lot…but it’s not the end of the world! The kids I get to hang out with are a great example of laughing and being full of life…maybe they have just as much of an impact on me as I do on them! 🙂

This influence comes with incredible responsibility on my part, though. There are so many things vying for the attention of these young guns in the world, and so many things that bombard them with different ideals and images. But I count it a true privilege to be a part of the resistance. To be a part of those working to express love – God’s love – to each one I get to work with. They are worth more than sparrows in His eyes and regardless of what the world is telling them, they are important to their Creator.

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I hope you feel just some of the passion I feel for this next generation. For their struggles, their rights, their desires and their growth. I am learning so much by being a part of this and I hope what I share will enlighten you and hopefully, bring a smile to your face too!