After a good but full day, it was difficult for Sam to roll out of bed Saturday morning. But after some coffee and a shower, he made his way to the convention center to look around the exhibition hall before the morning session began. Little did he know that today would be the proverbial fire hose day he had heard about from others in ministry.
Making his way into the Big Room, Sam noticed several faces he recognized from the past two days. It was nice to now have a level of comfort that he didn’t have stepping into the convention.
The worship and games were great, but what really grabbed Sam’s attention this morning was the speaker, Samer Massad. As he spoke about “death by distraction,” Sam began to feel conviction. While he had only been in youth ministry for a couple years, he knew he had been distracted. And as the speaker spoke about Mary and Martha from Luke 10, Sam knew it was time to refocus and begin to take the posture of Mary rather than Martha. The only question was how.
He grabbed a sandwich at one of the convention center snack shops, and sat alone for lunch as that question resounded in his mind. How would he be able to stop himself from going down the wrong path? He really felt God calling him to be in youth ministry for a long time, so how was he going to make sure he didn’t burn out or want to quit?
Perusing the convention guide while finishing what he realized was a bad choice of a sandwich, he spotted an afternoon workshop entitled, “Leading Beyond Fumes.” Immediately, he knew where he was going.
The workshop speaker, Larry Acosta, reminded the group that they are not the Messiahs. Jesus already has that role. He then asked everyone to share their stories with another in the room. This was not what Sam expected, and he was a bit scared to tell someone what is going on that he just met. Larry then walked through six steps to getting in a better place to lead, Sam filled his paper with notes with things like getting focused and gaining perspective, identifying potential pitfalls, and figuring out what refuels him. Throughout the workshop, Larry kept asking everyone to share with those around them, but each time, it got easier and easier. And by the time the workshop was over, he not only had some practical steps to take, but he had also made a new friend with similar struggles.
Sam had heard of Nona Jones before and her work with faith-based partnerships at Facebook, so he thought it would be cool to go hear her workshop next. As Nona walked through some statistics and shared how we can begin to reach the “selfie-centered generation,” Sam began to feel convicted and overwhelmed again. He believed what she was saying about helping people connect with a Gospel that is active in the lives of the broken and hurting. For far too long, we have been focusing on attractive programs. He knew things needed to change, but how would he be able to make all these changes in his ministry?
Little did he know that he would be seeing Nona again. After he had some dinner and settled into his Big Room seat for the evening, he heard the emcee announce that Nona would be the main speaker on the topic of consistency. And as Nona told her story, Sam realized God wants to do so much through him. He wanted to be consistent in the lives of the teenagers in his community, but how would he do it all? He remembered how Larry said earlier that we are not messiahs, but he still felt an overwhelming feeling of responsibility.
Luckily, he soon had the distraction of Crowder coming to lead the convention in a worship concert and then a party with a ton of giveaways to celebrate the 50th year of the convention. While he didn’t win anything, Sam still felt a little relief as he had fun with his new friends. And thankfully, he was physically drained by the end of the day, so his mind didn’t keep him from sleeping that night.