Lets talk…the work can get done later.

taskThis week I have spent most of my days talking with people.  I actually didn’t get as much work accomplished.  I suppose most some think we have a great day when we have a list to accomplish each day. I have a list but I am not sure I completed too many of those things today.  So tonight after I put the kids to bed and started getting work I didn’t get done today. I had a thought.

This past week has reminded me of a simple truth. I have never regretted spending time talking is someone over getting work done. Never and I mean never have I had a regret of looking at a person sitting at a table looking down and thought I don’t have time to talk with them.  My greatest joy is sitting with people and helping them find hope in a situation through Jesus.

This week I had a student come talk with me. It is not abnormal.  In fact I happened fairly often.  Sometimes it is students and sometimes it is colleagues, or parents. Most of the time when someone really needs me I find God sends them to me during a time when I don’t have the time.  When they walk in I am in my head thinking I really don’t have the time because i have to get this project done, but God sent you here so I will make it work. I will say it again.

I have never regretted spending time talking with someone over getting work done.

So here is the thing.  For those of you reading this I pray that you know people care for you.  I pray you know I care.  I pray that as we walk down the halls, and through our daily lives we take the time to talk.  We take the time to look at those around us and ask how they are doing?  The work will get done.  I promise it will.  Lets be the Jesus to those around us.  Let us take the time to really hear each other and listen and care for each other.

 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:11-12 NIV

 

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Youth and family ministry to 80 year olds…Listening to the stories, being the family of God

This week I had the joy of sitting with an old friend.  Someone I have known for a little over 5 years who I think of as an amazing grandma in the faith.  I have seen here many times at Church and today I had the privilege and joy of spending just a few moments talking with her at her house as I move away.  I wasn’t planning to see her but I had to make a visit because she had something in needed.  Jesus was at work in all this.  We laughed, we cried, we shared a moment together and she got to unload some of her story I have never heard before.  It was a moving moment and I have to say thank you to Jesus for letting me have a reason to see her one last time. I don’t know if I helped her but I do know I got to be Jesus for her today. It was one of my greatest moments in youth and family ministry.

You heard me right.  Youth ministry isn’t just about talking with teens, or children.  Youth and family ministry is about being in the lives of people.  Being in the lives of the family of faith.  Family and Youth ministry isn’t just about young people, young families, and little children it is about the whole family.  You see our more seasoned members need people to listen to them.  To care for them.  To pray for them.  Our family is bigger than just the young.  Our family is whole of the body of Christ.

For those of you who work in Youth ministry I want to remind you of something so important.  Seek out the seasoned members of your congregation.  Pray with them. Ask them to pray with you. Listen to them, and be there for them. They are a part of the Church as well. They are important to your ministry.  Jesus has allowed me to have some pretty amazing people walk with in my life.  People who wouldn’t be considered kids, but people who have allowed me to share Jesus with them.  I love that they let me and I love that Jesus puts us in those places.  May God put you in a place to day to be Jesus to someone.  To listen and to offer hope in their lives.

Prayer: Thank you Jesus for letting me walk with youth both young and old.

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters,[a] and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing 2 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV

I didn’t hear the sermon…but I saw Jesus and shared Jesus with my squirly neice.

DSC_0004I have a confession to make. This past Sunday I missed most of what happened in Church.  In fact I apparently missed my Brother in-law Pastor say that we worship three Gods in one person.(All pastor’s have slips  of the tongue) It was trinity Sunday and apparently he made this mistake during the opening announcements of the service. I tried to pay attention, I really did. However for this service I had one job in mind. I was going to keep my niece occupied so my Sister-in-law could enjoy the service of the baptism of her son. My self appointed job was sitting with my niece and trying to keep her quiet and distracted.  She is what I would call a wild child and I love her for it.  During the service I asked her in my quiet voice if I could suck her thumb that she was sucking.  I don’t know why I did it except she was starting to get noisy and point to Mom, and I though maybe it would make her smile. It did and for the whole hymn she kept trying to stick her disgusting thumbs into my mouth. (By the way she has a tendency to stick her hands in her diaper quite often just for the visual) This was the beginning of probably the most amazing worship service I have been a part of in awhile.

You see next my niece went up with all the other little kids and saw the baptism.  It was a very cool moment. When she returned, we spent the rest of the service quietly talking about it. Most of the message I spent pointing at the hymnal I was holding and showing her the baptism picture on it.  I quietly sat and talked with her about how she was baptized when she was a little baby and that one day she would be with Jesus. I talked about how I would be with Jesus because I was baptized too.  She smiled such a great smile and laughed her little laugh all very quietly. She would point to the baptismal font and then to herself and laugh. It was pure joy. We went to communion and I got to share with my niece about Jesus again. She smiled and we had the best time together. I held her and sang a hymn to her. At the last hymn she was tired and fell asleep in my arms. When the service was done the lady behind me said “What I did with that little girl was a miracle.”  I am not sure it was a miracle but It was a great day as an uncle because I got to share Jesus with my 2 year old niece.

It was not a miracle. It was a good weekend. It was a good day.  Two things I hope everyone takes from this story. First it is ok to give up a worship service to help a little one know Jesus and allow others to hear about him. It is ok to just pack it in and say you know what today is about my niece and everyone else in the room. I know parents who miss a lot in the service because they are devoting their lives to help their kids hear about Jesus.

Second and here is my challenge for congregations.  Maybe next week when you see that mom or dad who are struggling with their small child  to listen to the sermon you can sit next to them. Offer to hold one of the young ones during the service so they can hear about Jesus.  Take time with the little ones who are squirmy. Share Jesus  with them.  It can be a blessing for all involved.

but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

Do you hear me?

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Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:12-17

It happens all the time… I am sitting in the room with a bunch of teenagers and everyone of them is on their phone, iPod, or other device.  One of them might be talking to the group but in general students today are constantly on a device either with twitter, txt messaging, snap chat or some other electronic from of communication.

The problem isn’t just teenagers. We younger adults and increasingly older adults are getting into the habit.  In fact if I am honest, I am just as bad if not worse than most of the teenagers I work with.  My kids have looked at me with those oh so beautiful eyes and said “Dad will you stop playing on your phone and play with me.” My heart breaks a little every time they say it.

Maybe you can relate, maybe you aren’t there yet, but we all need to struggle with the damage we are doing to our relationships when we don’t communicate in person.  We are so busy trying to communicate with every person on the planet instead of the person sitting across the room.

For all of us in youth ministry but more importantly for all of use as fellow Christians.  We need to be better at this communication thing.  The problem with electronic communication is it is so easy to miss read people and or not hear and see the pain and struggle they may be going through.  It is so much easier to speak ill of people when it is in electronic form instead of speaking to them in person.  These forms of communication are causing many of us to be very mean and hurtful. It is damaging our Christian community and everyday lives.

So what can we do…

We could take our computers, smart phones, iPods, etc. and chuck them out the window into the snow.  I know your heart just skipped a beat. It really isn’t very realistic anyway.  These forms of communication do have a great benefit.  The problem is that if we only use this form we never really know people. When we miss that face to face talking with someone we cannot possibly know them or understand them.  (ask the kid from Notre Dame.)

So who is it in your life you are ignoring or hurting?  Who are you only speaking to on twitter, facebook or txt? How can you show them love and compassion by actually being with them. How can you bring reconciliation to a situation by being in the situation.  I know it is a challenge for all of us myself included but it is a challenge we must all take seriously if we are to forgive and bear each other burdens. To help bring hope to our relationships and lives together.

Still trying to figure out this Christian life, while living in Christ’s grace.

Steve Wilson