On my bike ride through the park I saw this group of people. You may know some of them if you live in my area. I didn’t ask them if I could post this picture so that is why it is taken from so far away. I yelled hello to them as I rode by the first time. Just a friendly group of people kicking around a soccer ball on a Sunday afternoon.
Are you curious why I snapped a picture of this group?
Ok, then I will tell you.
I took this picture because as soon as I saw this group I thought about how I wanted to blog mostly about one particular person in the group. As far as I can tell, he is just an average guy who appears to like sports. I don’t know him very well. To be more accurate I don’t know him at all. I know about him.
We’ve had brief conversations. I have sent him one email commending him for a job well done. His career path or job or whatever you would like to call it is what I knew about him even before being introduced. Seeing him today just confirms that he is the right person for what he is doing.
In this group of people in the park is the youth group minister for our church. It was a Sunday afternoon. He could be home snoozing on his couch. Sitting at the beach. Walking his dog, if he has one. But, nope. He is playing soccer with a bunch of teens that he has probably already seen a few times already this week.
Why in the world would he do that?
We didn’t chat about it but I have a fairly good idea.
Investment. He is investing his time, energy and effort in a group of people that he cares about-showing them that they are valuable.
Tossing around a ball in a park may not seem like a very churchy thing for a youth pastor to do. Thank goodness!
No, it is what leaders do. It is what individuals do that care about other people. Getting into someone’s else’s world. Work together? Sure.
But play together as well.
The rest of the people?
Most of them are young men and women who comprise a portion of our youth group. They appear to be the best of pals. Usually when I see one I see them all. They don’t all look the same. They are different sizes, ethnicities, genders but they are a unit, a tight knit little community unto themselves. They help do stuff around the church and are a vital part of our church family.
There were two other people I recognized in this gathering. A husband and wife, parents to two grown daughters. And of course the question begs to be asked and answered-Why were they there? Again, I am guessing. But my thought is it was for the same reason. They value these teens and showed up to let them know.
We did not attend this church when our hooligans were teens BUT the youth leaders of our old church were the same way. Awesome. Going the extra mile. Spending time with the kids outside the walls of the church edifice. Building strong young women and men by doing more than was expected. Being available.
If you know a youth or children’s pastor, and feel comfortable doing so, why not drop them a brief note this week and let them know they are appreciated?