This past Christmas (2012), I did something that I’ve never done before as youth director of my local church–I left my small group of teenagers to fend for themselves while I went off to Georgia to help my youngest sister and her husband take care of their two children. For some of you, this may not sound like a big deal, but for me, it was an epoch, one that marked a new phase for me as well as for my youth group.
To comprehend the import of this past Christmas, you have to understand my role as youth director. I returned to California back in 2004 after having been away in Massachusetts and Ohio for the past 12 years. And when I returned, I was put in charge of four teenage girls at my small local church: two of whom were my much younger cousins and the other two who were the associate pastor’s daughters. All in all, this was a very small group.
Fast forward 8 years, and those four girls are now young women, off and about doing their own thing, and the current youth group members are teenagers who were born either the same year that I graduated from college or around the time I graduated from my master’s program. Needless to say, I’ve been a fixture of their lives since they’ve been at our church as little kids. And in those 8 years, I’ve never once been away from church so that I can oversee and guide them through the annual Christmas presentation.
So you can imagine my concern when I realized that I would be missing the annual Christmas Eve presentation this year, the BIG presentation the youth group performs before the entire congregation in celebration of Jesus’ birthday.
Although a part of me understood intellectually that, according to my faith, all would be well and that God was in control, the control-freak side of me wondered if these teenagers could really remember everything and be responsible enough to perform the program without a hitch. After all, I was vacating my position during one of the church’s most importance events, and they’ve never had to do this on their own.
I had nothing to worry about.
As you’ll see in the video above if you are interested in seeing how blessed I am to be able to work with a dedicated group of maturing teenagers, the youth group stepped up to the proverbial plate and hit a home run…all without their youth director (me). Our Musing’s Jane, who attends my church, also edited the video for an added dash of polish.
Watching this video from my sister’s home in Georgia, I was moved–not by the presentation, which is in itself worth watching–but by the realization that my “job” in their lives is almost done. My role as their guide and leader is almost at an end, and these young teenagers are growing up to be some of the most incredibly awesome people that I have had the privilege to know and mentor.
Pretty soon, these teenagers will move on from the youth group to the adult congregation, and my role will shift from that of their leader to that of their peer. It’s a bittersweet thought, but nevertheless, I’m thankful that my work in their lives is almost done. This group has matured in so many unexpected ways and is teaching me that I am not irreplaceable. It’s a relief to know that when I resign my post at some point in the future, the youth group will be in good hands with this band of dedicated teenagers leading the way.
A wise man once told me that a person must “move forward in order to progress, for to stay in one place can only mean stagnancy or regression.” I’m glad to say that both I and my hearty group of teenagers are moving forward. There are some roles in life that will never change, but there are others that need to change, and I for one am glad that mine in their lives will be changing soon…and when it does, they’ll be more than ready to move forward.