I gave a Swiss Army Knife to a former student who has become a co-leader of mine this year. I decided to make it more than just a gift. This is something I kind of stumbled on that I will for sure make a point to do in the future.
The way I see it (now), a gift can easily be cast aside and become meaningless when a person gets bored with it. I’d rather a gift be something that has meaning attached to it. Hector (the person I gave the knife to) will always remember and value this gift because of the way I gave it to him.
Without being super deep or cheesy, before he opened it, I said, “This is something every man should be given by a significant adult.”
Hector doesn’t have a dad, so calling myself a “significant adult” was like saying “you can count on me”. By saying “every man”, I was saying “you’ve arrived”. By wanting to be the person who gave it to him, I was saying, “you matter to me”.
I won’t do this every time with every gift to every student. However, I will for sure try to be more intentional about how I give gifts to students. If I can accomplish this, gifts will become life-long valuable memories, rather than trinket for a day, then forgotten. When he’s having a hard day, he’ll turn to what he values/what values him. It’s a way to keep our students engaged so we can point them to Christ throughout their lives.
I keep these camp pictures on my mantle to remind me of the great youth ministry memories made while doing summer camp. On this Thanksgiving Day, that’s what I’m thankful for: Youth Ministry, getting to impact young lives for Christ, and the relationships that come out of it.
Got a text message this morning that really made my day.
My small group boys from last year are now in a college-age small group. Their leader contacted me today to meet up to talk about them. I love this for a few reasons:
– I love those boys and I’m stoked to help their new leader know them better
– I love that their leader cares enough about leading them to reach out to me to find out how to lead them more effectively
As leaders we do our students a huge favor when we serve them strategically. That’s what this leader is doing by setting up our meeting this afternoon. It makes me happy to know that my boys, who I poured into for 4 years, have a new leader who cares about leading them as much as I do.
We used our host home for several years. During that time, I estimate hundreds of students have attended small group there. All of us have made connections with God there and had our lives improved in various ways.
In a scene kind of like the last scene in It’s A Wonderful Life, we wanted to communicate all of the great things that happened as a result of the generously opened home during the years we met there. One of our leaders, Sarah, the one who’s ditching us to move to Sacramento, (hi, Sarah — she reads this blog) — Sarah put together a great photo album/scrap book. On each page a student wrote a note to the home owners. Each note started with, “In your home, I…” and they continued writing how their lives were enhanced through their small group experience there.