It’s been a very long time since I had direct responsibility for the whole youth program in a church. Our’s is not large but we just added 5 very active (in the life of the church as well as in life in general) 7th graders to our youth group; 6 girls, 1 boy. Funny, the Sr High is dominated by boys with only 1 girl. So we’re small but on the cusp of opportunity so I am anxious about not letting the opportunity pass. So I am now adding youth to my Sunday routine.
This week we talked about God’s gift to us and how we can be a gift to others. (From Pictures of God by Mark O(something I can’t remember, published by Youth Specialties)). For the closing part of worship, each one finished the sentence: I am grateful to God for the gift of …
For the most part the answers were typical for jr high, friends, family, passing a test, my dad not freaking over the 62 in Spanish (and dad is a native Spanish speaker). After my week of interesting email and the realization of “there’s no one else to lead youth and we can’t afford to lose these kids because no one will lead,” I was feeling a lot tired and some overwhelmed by all the “stuff” of ministry. As I listened to their responses, I was figuring out my own. The ending I chose was, in part, a reflection of the day because more people than usual commented postively about the sermon or gave me a compliment. Those supportive gestures helped with the feeling of being overwhelmed. So, I said, “I’m grateful to God for the gift of people telling me I’m doing a good job.” And there was a chorus that immediately replied, “You’re doing a good job.”
Those inattentive, distracted, full of diversions, oblivious, hazy, preoccupied, unobservant jr high spoke … and I heard God’s voice. Yes, I do believe God works in mysterious ways. And God works in and through us even when we don’t know it. Thanks be to God for jr high who might really be paying more attention than it looks like!