I’ve been talking a lot about this idea of “widening the circle” amongst youth group parents and with anyone I can talk to– it’s the idea of having other, committed, non-parental adults in the life of your kid as they are growing up. You want to have people who would say what you would say to your kid (but with a different, possibly more effective, voice).
In preparation for our “Orange” series (which starts this Sunday morning), Pastor Mitch asked the Family Ministry team to talk about their people– the ones who invested in them when they were younger. It was great to hear about the people who invested in my team mates.
I laughed to myself during the meeting, “Well, this would be a good blog post…”
The Celtics have KG, Pierce, and Ray. Here are my “Big Three”…
Sister Bernadette is a nun from Ireland who invested in me and my brothers when I was in elementary school. She was probably in her 40′s (it goes without saying that she wasn’t married or a mom), and she was just a fixture at St. Francis Catholic Church in Mocksville, NC. Did I constantly impersonate the Irish trill in her voice? Maybe. But she was always patient with me. I think you had to have a sense of humor to love me with my mullet and hyperactive personality. She would take us on trips to go see the Christmas lights and preside over church picnics and the like. I remember that she would let me be myself in church plays, and I always had a sense that she believed in me. I can still hear her encouraging me to settle down.
I walked away from church when I was in middle school. I got a gig working at the Holiday Inn bussing tables and washing dishes. The cold, hard cash was tempting for a young guy with a baseball card addiction.
But, years later, when I was sifting through the wreckage of an ugly divorce between my mom and my stepdad, trying to figure out who I was in high school, I went to Young Life for the first time. There, I met two more of my Big Three.
Hunter French was a Wake Forest junior when I started coming to Young Life. He led my “campaigner” Bible study. He was a vegetarian. I’d never met one of those. I remember the first time I came to his group. He said to open up the book of Ephesians, and I thought that an “ephesian” sounded more like a foot disease. I was lost, but he helped me to map my way towards God’s truth. He loved teenagers. Our small group was a motley crew, and he loved us all the same. The Waffle House ended up becoming a sacred space on Thursday nights when we would meet and talk about who Jesus is. I loved him so much that I ended up taking my first road trip with another campaigner buddy to Bethesda, MD to be at his wedding.
Mark Hogan was a guy in his 40′s who is kind of cloaked in mystery for me. He was never around that much with Young Life. I think he was on the committee, more of a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. I know he worked in finance. I’m not even sure if he had a family. But he was there when I needed him. When I needed him was when I went to Frontier Ranch in July of 1995. There, the Gospel penetrated my heart; and, for the first time in my life, I surrendered my life to Jesus. It was great to have a father-figure on that trip because I was seeing for the first time how much my heavenly Father loves me. I remember the night I surrendered my life to Jesus hugging him and weeping like a little baby because I had just “gotten” a glimpse of how much God loved me.
Those are my three. They probably don’t even know they are. There are three questions here. Answer any or all:
Who are your people?
Who are you positioning in the life of your kid(s) to be those people?
Where do you serve the next generation?