To the kids who called us their Youth Leaders, and to the ones we hung with every Friday night and through the week.
We thought we had the whole Youth leader thing figured out. We were teenagers ourselves not that long before. We had the energy, the patience, the crazy ideas and the free weekends to be what we thought we should be.
We read books and went to conferences, we knew the statistics, and we thought that we would be the ones to disciple and teach each one of you, and that we would be instrumental in nurturing the faith you would claim as your own, the same faith you would pass on to your children.
But really, it was the other way around.
You taught us to pray with you every time we got together, to remind us of our priorities and the reason we met every week.
You taught us that standing up for your faith meant listening and doing life together, but most of all, it meant sharing the Gospel with no holds barred.
You taught us to keep our door unlocked, to be willing to invite you in at any time.
You taught us that sometimes we had too many things planned, when really all you needed to do was talk.
You taught us that sometimes you just needed an escape, and sometimes a place to stay the night.
You taught us that you were hungry for the meat of God’s Word, that you could handle so much more depth than we thought.
You taught us that believing something isn’t enough – that we need to be able to explain it clearly and thoughtfully.
You taught us that age doesn’t matter, that the music we listen to or the clothes we wear are unimportant. You taught us that we just needed to be ourselves, and to be willing to share that with you. You taught us to be available.
You taught us that life isn’t easy. Life isn’t fair. You taught us that so many of you were carrying burdens that we had never experienced, and that being a “church kid” didn’t mean you had a perfect home life.
You taught us what it looks like to reach beyond yourselves, what it means to have only your Father God to rely on.
You taught us what it means to have the burden of the Gospel burn so brightly within you that you couldn’t not travel the world to share it.
You taught us what it means to stand up against all that you knew, all that you were taught was right, and speak out for yourself and for others.
Each one of you were, and continue to be, so strong and so courageous. We flatter ourselves when we call you “our kids”.
God blessed us when He allowed us to be a brief part of your life so many years ago. Words you said, things you did, and lessons you taught us pop into our thoughts and conversations so often.
So we thank you. We thank each one of our Youth, and each one of our Static kids. You are a light of encouragement in this dark world, whether you feel like it or not.
And when you find yourself struggling again, facing demons or being torn down?
Know that you are set apart, you are chosen and you were never “ours”.
You. Are. His.