4 Hours of Sleep + Russian Accents + Raps about Nuns = Quite the Memorable Weekend

21 02 2011

It’s a rare thing for me to get only four hours of sleep for two nights in a row, and still come home so amped that I can’t even calm myself down enough to sit down and relax.

Unless it just so happens that I’m involved in something that is my absolute passion.

Like this last weekend, when I was at the 2011 Peer Ministry Training Retreat.

Oh, goodness. The glory of the weekend was unparalleled—except, perhaps, if I would’ve spent an entire week in Venice, eating sushi and listening to piano solos while sitting outside in my flip-flops and drinking caramel macchiatos.

Not possible on my paycheck, friends. Don’t worry. I’ll settle for what truly was an incredible weekend instead.

Imagine 23 of the brightest, most compassionate, caring, driven teen leaders you know, coming together alongside a team of committed, knowledgeable professionals for an entire weekend away at a retreat center out in the country.

Picture all of these kids learning practical counseling skills, coupled with intentional leadership development techniques, and watching them practice what they’re learning on each other, right in front of you.

Visualize all of these teens sitting together in a darkened chapel, singing “Amazing Grace” together, praying for each other, and sharing the Lord’s Supper together.

Envision these strangers becoming close friends in just a few days, hugging each other on the last evening and exchanging phone numbers and Facebook names and posing for goofy pictures—all while lingering, because they don’t want to go home just quite yet.

Oh, forget it. I can’t even paint a picture of how wonderful and inspiring the weekend was with mere words. Just trust me—it was amazing.

I don’t often get the opportunity to immerse myself completely in something I enjoy so much. I’m always racing around, running events and preparing leaders and making copies and instructing kids, juggling the responsibility of big programs and lots of leaders. It’s not that I don’t like my job—I do.

It’s that I’ve found something that gives me life, something that I could do every moment of every day and I would never get tired of doing it…and that thing is investing in this next generation of student leaders.

As trite as it may sound, I can’t think of any better way to help make this world a better place than by investing in shaping the future of our teenagers, who are our hope for the future.

And honestly, I think we are at a pivotal brink in history where our most important focus should be on our future and the future faith leaders of this world. As Gabe Lyons says in The Next Christians, “This moment is unlike any other time in history. Its uniqueness demands an original response. If we fail to offer a different way forward, we risk losing entire generations to apathy and cynicism. Our friends will continue to drift away, meeting their need for spiritual transcendence through other forms of worship and communities of faith that may be less true but more authentic and appealing.”

After all, if we don’t care about this next generation, who will guide them in an increasingly complex and muddy world? How will they grow into morally upright adults in an age of no absolute truth, no expectations, and no direction? How can we expect them to influence the world positively when they’ve never had someone tear them away from their texts and their laptops and their iPods and plant a serious thought in their brains?

That’s our calling.

I realized this weekend that I’m willing to give up every dream and aspiration I’ve had for my life, in order to empower this future generation—if that’s what God requires of me.

Besides, how often do you get to see students speaking in horrible Russian accents, break dancing in conference rooms, climbing trees like monkeys, throwing each other into the pool, rapping made-up songs about nuns, and crying as they pray for each other and hugging like best friends all in the course of one weekend?

Not too often.

Oh, and the now infamous nun-rapping student, whose hit ditty is being quoted by every student at the retreat?

One of mine, of course.

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