Tuesday, August 15, 2006

And Now, For The Letting Go Part

Letting go of a student is a hard thing. Letting go is a partnership. Plenting of kids leave our groups or quit coming under bad or awkward circumstances. Letting go is more of a mutual agreement. I have felt disheartened when a student, especially a talented one leaves for various reasons. Sometimes it a church change, sometimes just busyness leads them away.

If you have the opportunity to let go it's a good thing. I recently had a student tell me that they felt led to another church/youth group. They had recently moved farther away from the church but I was still crushed. We had history, trips, camps, etc. After we spoke (to make sure there were no personal issues) my wife and I prayed with them and then allowed them to share the reasons why they were leaving. I did this for several reasons:

1. It's the right way to do things.

I can't count the number of times I've seen students or families just drop out of church without any reason later to find out they are going somewhere else. Or worse, they leave and you never notice they are gone. Partnering with the student whose leaving makes sure that things are done the right way.

2. It squelches rumors.

It doesn't matter what really happens truth becomes what is spread around. If you and the student partner to make a good exit it will set the record straight.

3. It give a chance to celebrate and mourn.

Closure is big with me. Maybe it's because so many Houdini pastors made me disappear with out warning. This is especially important if the student has been in the church along time. The Bible says we should rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. The church is all about relationships. It's our job to keep them as healthy as possible and closure facilitates that. Students get to say goodbye and we get to say thank you to those students for their years of service.

Jesus had to let go. He even gave Judas the out, "Go and do what you must do quickly". Jesus let him go. No argument, no complaining, no "please come, back we need you". Later on Judas' spot had been filled by Justus. We must be willing to let them go and let God take them to where they believe they are suppose to go. We cannot stand in their way to protect the youth group or the program, that would be selfish. Thank God for the blessing of letting go. You can sow a seed or you can squash the growth you had tried to hard to cultivate. The choice is yours.

Let the sparks fly!


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Eating Dirt and Letting Go

Eating Dirt and and letting go. Both are hard to swallow but is a necessary step in our spiritual growth and the growth of those we disciple. Recently a long time family of the church bought a house across town about 40 minutes from the church. If you've been around the church any you know that no matter what they tell you, they're gone.

They had bought the house and we had a youth night pm service that we were doing. Two of their girls were involved. I had just flew in from a funeral and had let one of their daughters and two other leaders coordinate the evening. Well, upon my arrival things seemed disorganized. It was a little and as leaders do we have to give "the talk". My talks are a bit more motivational and can come across as intense or that I am displeased. After the talk I had talked with the leaders and told them not to mistake my intensity for displeasure.

After "the talk" about a week later I heard that the young lady was mad at me because she had felt singled out. Well, as soon as I heard it my wife and I sat down with her and asked her to share her feelings. This is where the big, heaping, helping of dirt is served an appetizer. Upon hearing this I immediately had a fleshly reaction. I was mad, I had a so what attitude, I was wrong. I had to look deeper. My callousness hurt someone's feelings even though it was not directed to her. We talked for about 15 minutes and I just laid it out there. I apologized and could here the hammer hitting the nail with ever word I spoke. Following that she said that she would not be attending youth anymore but would be looking for somewhere else to go. She said it was not because of this and I believer her to some degree. It was not a "leave the church" offense. Her parents closed on the house and this was a natural step for her and I agreed. Who am I to argue when God is leading someone.

I offered her the opportunity to stand before our group and share what was going on. I don't believe you should sweep things under the rug. I had told her that I believe closure was important on both ends. She came that Wednesday and at the end of the service shared about two minutes of why she was leaving. It gave students a chance to say good bye and for her to say goodbye to them. It leaves a leadership void but I am not worried God will fill in the gaps.

Some things we can take away:

1. Don't have a diet of eating dirt. Keep it cool and think before you speak.

2. If you have to eat dirt eat it cooked the way you like it. Handle problems straight on with grace before they come looking for you.

3. Dirt tastes nasty at first but the after-taste isn't so bad. You are left with the knowing that you have done the right thing for the right reasons. Humility is a characteristic that should always challenge us and change us more into Jesus Christ. I think of the verse where Christ stood before Pilate "he opened not his mouth". Humility.

In my next session I want to talk about letting go of those you lead. See you next time.