So the other night at youth group, as we were wrapping up and I was breaking down our setup, my wife comes running over from our main worship building frantic. She blurts out, "I can't get into the church building there is a snake in the way." You've never seen a room of teenagers clear so quick! Of course the Turtleman in me sprang into action. Luckily all of the teens stayed out of strike range and I was able to get them back while I corralled the snake. After the snake was captured and moved into a field behind our church, I was able to reflect something my wife said. She said you did a good job of keeping the students from getting hurt.
Don't we, as youth pastors, always do this? I don't mean protect our teens from snake bites, that's a gimme unless your in a snake handling church. But don't we always keep our students away from failure? Why would we let the students lead worship, that might get messy and not sound good! Why would we encourage teens to share their faith, they might mess up and look silly in front of their friends! Why would we let students lead the mission trip, they may miss something or even forget the lunch food (true story)!
The best learning experiences I have had in my faith were usually from utterly messing up and failing. I knew the snake wasn't poisonous, I've grown up hunting and fishing in Kentucky all my life, I'm very familiar with the poisonous snakes are in my area. So if it bit a student it would hurt and they may get sick from the bacteria, but it wouldn't be life threatening. As a youth pastor I should be able to see what serious failures my students may face, and warn them of them. But the little bitty failures that could help them grow? Maybe I should let them make those failures. Obviously I'm going to correct a student who has a seriously bad theological view of something and obviously I'm going to report a student that is self injuring. But how about putting the deathly shy student in charge of that mission trip? How about volunteering the youth to lead adult worship? Let them fail! They may get bit by Jesus instead of a snake! Until next time,
Just Keep Swimming!