Posts Tagged ‘school’

Although you wouldn’t really be able to tell from looking out my window at the 3 inches of snow that fell today, the seasons are beginning to change.  Winter turns to spring.  Academic busy-ness turns to spring fever and summer fun.  The ministry madness of the Christmas to Easter season begins to turn slowly to the more relaxed pace and flexibility of summer ministry.

As I was glancing today through my calendar for the next few months, I couldn’t help but notice something.  While there certainly isn’t a lack of work to do, events to plan, and family functions to attend in the coming months, they are looking significantly less full than the past few months have been.  Things are beginning to wind down for a season – you know how I can tell?

  • The number of youth events on my calendar has dropped.  SAC lunches are down to a minimum (due to upcoming holidays that fall on the 2nd Sunday of the month) and we’re preparing to wind down this academic-year-season of youth ministry at PLC.
  • There are fewer classes on the calendar this quarter.  Since one of my registered classes this quarter is Field Study, which is mostly taking place in conjunction with my ministry at PLC, I have fewer classes per week and at least the notion of less homework.  It’s a nice reprieve and lead-in to summer.
  • My little sister graduates from college in a month!  Even though her academic calendar finishes up about a month before mine, I’m already hearing the sounds of summer.

In addition to the change in perceived busy-ness, I’ve noticed a bit of a shift in my ministry.  What does this season look for me as I face a calendar with fewer events and more office hours?

  • Evaluation – For the first time I am facing the end of this academic-year-season of ministry knowing with certainty that I’ll be continuing in my ministry in this place.  I’ve been spending a lot of time lately reflecting on how we’ve done youth ministry this year at PLC and trying to figure out ways to build on that for next year.
  • Relational Connections – I’m beginning to step up my efforts in connecting with youth on their “turf” through coffee connections, texting (as much as I despise it sometime) and just checking in to see how they have grown during the course of the year.
  • Future Planning – I’m in the early stages of figuring out where Youth Ministry at PLC will be headed next year.  We’re in a place right now where some shifts are beginning to happen, and I’m excited to see where God is calling us to go this Fall.

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I am very fortunate to be living and learning in the company of people who come from all walks of life.  I am in classes with people who are parents, people who are right out of undergrad, people who have been pastors for years, people who are working a part-time food service job just to get by, people who come from different ethinc backgrounds than myself, people who have lived through some of the “historical” events that come up in our discussions, etc.  I have the privilege of working alongside people who are in ministry as a second career, who have experienced more pain in their lives than I can imagine, people who have been effected by the government and society since before I was born, and with people who know the true value of family, friends and life experience.  Many of the people who I have gotten to know the most in my classes are easily old enough to be my parents.  As I sit in classes alongside these fine people, I have recently been challenged.  I am humbled by the amount of “life experience” with which I am surrounded in any given day.

Life experience is one of those things that doesn’t happen over night.  (Duh, otherwise it wouldn’t be called life experience.)  Lately, I’ve become painfully aware of a rather annoying habit that I have — every time someone has a story to tell about one of their life experiences, I seem to have a “similar” story to share (although often times it’s nowhere near similar).  I’m notorius for saying, “Oh yeah, like this one time when I…”  or “When I was in college…” or “When I was your age…” (usually that one comes out in the presence of my youth group kids).  It wouldn’t surprise me if any one of those phrases instantly cues somebody to put on that filter that reduces everything that follows to “blah blah blah blah-dy blah-dy blah blah…” Who am I kidding?  Most of the time, my “life experience” pales in comparison to the people I’m talking to.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  There are a few things I am not saying:

  1. I am not saying that life experience isn’t important.
  2. I am not saying that my life experience isn’t valuable enough to share with people.
  3. I am not saying that I don’t have any life experience.

Rather, I’m beginning to realize some things:

  1. There is an appropriate time to keep my mouth shut and just listen to the life experience of others and learn from it rather than feeling the need to interject with some story from my own life that is probably completely unrelated.
  2. For as much life experience as I think I have, I still have so much to learn and experience in life… after all, I’m only 24 years old – I’m still a youngster compared to many of the folks I keep company with.
  3. I hope that 25 years from now I have the same patience to listen to the life experience of a 25 year old as many people have had with me.

Just some thoughts I’ve been having lately.  Hopefully they’re at least somewhat coherent.  What value do you place on life experience?  Are you guilty of being too arrogant about your own?  Do you value the life experience of those younger than you? …older?

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