I'm blessed to get to work one or two youth retreats a year. They are three days long, and the kids come in on Saturday morning and stay until Monday night. It never ceases to amaze me how the relationships are formed during those three days. Some of the kids know some other kids that will be there, but most of them don't.
We have a five person clergy team that is there during the weekend for the kids should a need arise, but for the most part, we pretty much stay in the background. We try to take some time to get to know the kids, but most of the work is done in and most of the support comes from their micro-communities of about 6 or 8 people. The clergy talk with the kids and focus on letting them know that they are loved of God, but something happens about halfway through the weekend that never ceases to amaze me. Usually by Sunday night, the kids stop coming to us with their questions or difficulties and start taking care of each other. I think it's actually pretty cool to watch.
Now, if we as clergy were insecure, or had huge egos, we could hover over the groups believing they couldn't get along without us...or we can let them know we are there if they need us and let them be.
What I have found over my years in the ministry is that a lot of us feel that Jesus isn't the only Messiah our folks need. We think that they can't get along without us and therefore we have to micromanage every aspect of church life. What I have also found is that it will absolutely wear a person out.
This morning's readings come from Exodus and in those texts is a beautiful nugget of fatherly wisdom from Jethro to Moses. Moses has sat as judge over the people as they come to him all day long with their disagreements. Jethro notices what's going on and says, "Moses, what are you doing? Let somebody help you, for crying out loud. Pick some guys whom you trust, and let them take care of X number of people or you're going to burn yourself out." And by golly, Moses listens.
It's a beautiful thing to watch, you know, folks helping other folks out. It's also mutually edifying. I've watched this happen not only with our Chrysalis kids on the 3 day retreats, but also with my folks at church. Over the last couple months my folks have taken on some pastoral care even though they aren't pastors. What they are, though, is part of the priesthood of all believers and have really begun taking on that role. Which, right now, is a huge help to me.
I'm neck deep in preparations for ordination, so knowing that my folks are keeping an eye on each other while I'm in the books more right now allows me to focus on what I need to do to get through the next few weeks. I get an email or a text keeping me updated on what's going on with my flock, I have a great trustee chair who takes care of the building, a great finance chair who takes care of that aspect of things, and right now, I am very thankful for the help. I'm also blessed by watching them take care of each other.
It was a tough lesson for me to learn. I had always thought that I was the only one who could do those things that needed to be done. It was a control issue for me, or maybe I knew that I was ultimately responsible for getting it done. What I have learned though, is that God knows we can't do it all by ourselves. If only we could figure that out.