It is that time of year when you will barely hear a peep from most youth ministers. They are head down, plugging away at the meat of the busiest part of their year. I personally am working my 39th day in row and looking forward to this coming Friday when I get my first day off of the summer.
This past week we took our students off to summer camp. Summer camp is a weird time for me it brings about feelings of great stress and anxiety but also feelings of great joy. On the other hand, summer camp brings about feelings of sadness and regret. I know that sounds weird but stay with me.
Getting almost 30 people up and on the road and to a destination that is 6 hours away and then keeping them focused and peaceful for 5 days is really quite the challenge but always worth it especially when 7 of those people give their lives to the Lord. And while those things consume most of my thoughts, my never off brain is always finding ways to slip in negative thoughts. You see as a young man I LOVED camp. It was simply the greatest time of my life and for many many years I believed I would work at and one day run and speak at my very own camp. Those dreams never came to fruition. And so now as life has played out I take my own group to camp. And every year I am reminded of those dreams that faded slowly and I wonder what might have been if only I had been willing to take a risk and go all in on that dream so many years ago.
It is no secret that we all have heroes. No matter what our dreams are their is someone who is living out those dreams that we aspire to be. One of mine is the man who founded the camp that we have taken our students to for the last 8 years his name is Clayton King. I greatly admire this man for his passion and fire for reaching the lost,both young and old, I aspire to be able to communicate and teach the word of God as effectively and boldly as he does and I love his down to earth attitude and willingness to talk to anyone who approaches him.
Clayton’s reach has grown immensely over the years and especially over the last year since taking the position of Interim Senior Pastor at Newspring Church in South Carolina so it is easy to see why many people might make him their hero but over the years I have found myself secretly hero worshiping some other people. Specifically, my secret heroes were the camp staffers. Admittedly, I was embarrassed over the fact that I found myself in awe of these people and mostly college aged kids that are now at least 12 years younger than me. In my mind it was ridiculous that I would be so star struck by a bunch of kids who had so little life experience and so much to learn. But this year it hit me, unexpectedly and in a way I never would have thought, God showed me exactly why the camp staffers were my heroes and he did so through a former camp staffer who was at camp for the first time as a youth pastor.
We were getting our room assignments when I saw him. Right across the hall in the room across from mine, he was sitting on the bed I called out his name and he came out and as our students scurried off to their rooms we stopped and caught up. I could tell he was processing and adjusting to the fact that he was now on the other side of the camp experience and it was just a little overwhelming. We talked for a few minutes and as we parted I prayed for him and that is when God spoke to me. For the first time in my life I understood why all these young kids were my heroes and it all boiled down to a single word. RISK
When looking up to someone the one thing that must be present is a characteristic that they possess that you wish that you possessed but don’t. These college kids, every last one of them, took the risk that it was worth leaving their normal lives to spend their summer to serve a bunch of teenagers in the name of Jesus. At first glance that may not seem like a big deal to many of us but I promise you that at 18, 19 or 20 that is a BIG deal. The faith that it takes is a faith that I didn’t have at that age. When I finally had the chance, after years of dreaming, to go interview and possibly take a position as a camp staffer fear won out and I didn’t even go to the interview and I never had the chance again.
While I admire Clayton King now I think I admire the 22 yr old Clayton that I never met much more because at 22 he started Crossroads Summer Camp and built the ministry that I once dreamed of building but was afraid to step out in faith and make it happen.
So the question is : What risk are you afraid to take? And more importantly, will you ever reach your dreams if you don’t?