This is part two of my day one blog. Later on in the day, at the Big Room event (the main session where everyone is together), Andy Stanley brought an excellent message about uncertainty that I will not soon forget! Now I know that Andy usually preaches pretty fast, but what he brought was like a machine gun with the trigger held in. It was non-stop goodness. I typed over four pages of notes on my computer and my fingers were aching afterwards.
Andy started off by giving us the following statements: “I may be in charge but I don’t always know what to do. I may be in charge but I don’t have all the answers. If I knew what was going to happen, then I’d know what to do. Every leader to some extent is clueless (we just don’t want the people following us to figure that out). When it comes to leadership, there is so much uncertainty and it never ever ever goes away!” He went on to say that we will always have limited information and we will never know what the future holds. And then he had us repeat the following statement: “I will always be uncertain, I’m certain of it!”
One of Andy’s main points was that we will always face uncertainty as leaders. It is a normal and permanent part of leadership. If everything was predictable then there would be absolutely no need for pastors (leadership). God always got the best mileage out of uncertainty. When God does amazing things, it usually isn’t during a day when nothings is going wrong…it’s usually when there is some degree of uncertainty.
In the midst of uncertainty, Andy said that there are two things we should turn to: clarity and flexibility. In times of uncertainty there is a need for leadership to retreat back to being clear and flexible. Clarity trumps uncertainty in an organization every single time. When times are uncertain in our local church, family, organization, etc…that is the time for the leaders to step up and be absolutely crystal clear about what God has called us to do. Clarity in the time of uncertainty is what positions and surfaces leaders in an organization. An illustration of this comes from the scriptures in the transition between Moses and Joshua. Joshua was good at wondering because his mentor was (Moses). And then God wanted him to lead an army into battle. Talk about uncertainty!
Joshua had no clue what to do so he told the people that there is stuff that he doesn’t know, but in three days they would be crossing the Jordan and taking the land that God has promised them. That’s leadership in uncertain times! It’s the definition of pure leadership! Next, Andy gave us a quote/philosophy/vision from Steve Jobs (former owner of Apple) that said: “We’ve got to focus on what we can be good at and stop everything else…we are going to build easy to use computers.” Steve Jobs did what every leader has to do in times of uncertainty. He stepped back into what he knew for sure…stepped back from the numbers and chaos of a hurting/dying company and reinvigorated them!
What has God called us to do in our ministries? What has God called our student ministries to do in our communities? What has God called our church to do in our community or our world?
Andy said that clarity in times of uncertainty will move your organization forward. You don’t have to have a cute phrase for your vision, but you also shouldn’t have a huge paragraph. We need to figure out what the one thing that God has called us to do is. For Steve Jobs, it was to build computers that are easy to use! Certainty around the calling of God is extraordinarily powerful, and that’s where we have to retreat. It has to be crystal clear what God has called us to do, in our mind and on our lips!
Next, Andy talked about flexibility. In times of uncertainty, there needs to be incredible flexibility. Plans change, but vision should stay the same. What Andy said next was great. He said: “Fall in love with your vision, but date your plans. Marry your vision and just fool around with your plans. You’ve got to stay extraordinarily committed…plans are going to change!” If we ever confuse our vision with our mission, we are sunk…because plans WILL fail!
Another quote that jumped out at me was: “Fundraising is a plan; church planting is a mission and a vision…if you get them confused, you’re in trouble!” We can’t abandon the mission and vision because of a failed plan.
We must help our leaders, elders, and deacons to understand the difference between vision and approach. Approach may change numerous times…plans change…but vision always remains the same! Andy says we need to be stubborn with our vision and flexible in our plans.
There was so much good content in Andy Stanley’s message to youth workers but one of the most important things that I snagged up from it was what he said about leadership. He said that leadership is not about making decisions on your own, but standing up and owning the decisions as a team. He went on to tell us about the wisest man in the world (Solomon) who had the most to say about seeking counsel from others. Even though he knew the most out of anyone ever, he still saw it wise to seek the teams’ advice on things. Leadership is about owning decisions once you made them with a multitude of wise counselors, not alone!
I just wanted to let you all know that I will be adding more posts about the rest of our trip sometime in the near future. The last few days were very busy and I didn’t have time to write.
We got back to Altoona at 4:30 AM on Saturday morning. Once I am recovered and energized, I will finish up blogging about the remaining days in Texas.
Thanks for reading!
Yesterday morning we began our training. It lasted from 9:30 AM until around 2:00 PM. We learned about each of the campers that we would be in charge of. We got to look over their files and ask questions to the case workers so we would know what and who we would be dealing with. Most of the kids come from troubled pasts and backgrounds. Mrs. Sheryl, or “Mama Bear” as she has the kids call her, led some of the training. Something she said really stuck out to me and I wrote it down so I could include it in this post. This is what she said:
“These kids are not foster children. They are just children who happen to be living in the foster care system because of what they had to live through and because of the adults that are in their lives. It isn’t their fault or something that they did, it is what they have been dealt (sexually abused by parents, drug and alcohol abusing parents, neglected, had to find their own food and survive on their own, etc).”
I really saw her heart for these kids and it was something worth admiring. I hoped that my students and leaders (from AAC) would adopt this attitude towards these children as well!
There isn’t much free time here; well…there is actually no free time at all. It is a 24 hour, on the clock, type of ministry. A lot has happened since yesterday afternoon and I don’t know if I’ll have time to write about all of it, but I will try…
As I mentioned, the campers arrived at 3:00 PM. Keith is in his own cabin with his own campers and counseling team. He and I are what they call the “House Dad’s!” Basically what this means is that we are the main adult figure in the cabins. We say what the rules are, we lead the devotions and Bible studies, and the counselors come to us if they need any help or advice. In our cabin (cabin #1), Jordan and I were the counselors that got to stay to greet the campers, and help them get settled in as they arrived. We have the largest cabin with 20 people total: 14 campers and 6 leaders. One of the leaders is a Jr. Counselor (high school student who was a camper during the high school boy’s week). We have a great group of counselors and we’ve been able to handle everything pretty well so far. Some of our students are a lot to handle, but they all need love and we are here to show it to them!
Despite the intense heat, our kids insist on running to every activity. It must be that they are from Texas and the heat doesn’t bother them, but for me…walking will suffice!
After the kids arrived, we played some get to know you games and attempted to get to know each other. The games purpose was to get the kids to know each other’s name. We thought that it went well, but ever since then, they have been calling each other “hey kid” or “hey dude!” Maybe by the end of the week they will know each other’s names!
After that, Jordan and I took our group to the lake for boat riding, fishing, and cooking around the campfire. The kids and leaders had a blast. After the lake, it was time to go swimming. Anytime swimming is offered, everyone is extremely excited (because of the heat). But sometimes, the pool is so hot that it isn’t very refreshing.
After swimming, we headed to the dining hall so the kids could take their medicine, have snacks, and refill their water bottles. Then it was time to go back to the cabins, have devotions, and go to sleep. Devotions were a nightmare! The kids listened and read along in their Bibles, but comments were flying every which way and we couldn’t get them to focus for more than a minute at a time. We were studying James 3:1-12 (about taming the tongue). This was a great devotion to do considering most of our kids have a problem with insulting each other and cursing. The lesson took way longer than it should have (because of the constant talking) and just as I finally though that they got the point of the lesson and I was about to pray, one of the kids insulted and swore at another kid who let a bodily function out a little too loudly!
Bed time was not any less chaotic than the devotions were. It took almost 2 hours to get everyone quiet and to sleep! Needless to say, all of the counselors were exhausted in the morning!
Due to the fact that the campers are here, Keith, Jordan, and I are off doing our own thing with the campers. Tyler is working with the recreation team and water refilling team. And Abby, Katelyn, and Kristen are helping out with crafts, recreation, and a few other random things. I see those four a few times each day and each time I see them, they have big smiles on their faces. So I know that they are having a blast.
I don’t know when the next time I will be able to write will be, so check back randomly to see if I have posted any more updates. It is very hard to find free time. If worse comes to worse, I will just post all of the updates (from each day) whenever we get back from the trip!
I heard someone say something yesterday and I would like to close with it.
“When you put yourself out there on the front line and let God use you as his instrument, He will do as much changing in our hearts as He will with any child that walks through the gate of this camp and the doors in the buildings and cabins!”
This is my prayer four our youth group and leaders, that God would change our hearts just as much as He changes the campers hearts. I pray that God would work through us and use us in mighty ways.
Please continue to pray for us, as I know you will!
Until next time…