On Sunday, I volunteered with the youth group for the first time. I’d met Rev. Susannah at worship that morning (yes, I made it, thanks for asking) and told her I’d be there that night.
It was amazing how self-conscious I was about the way I was dressed. I wore my “Jesus Loves You” t-shirt as a joke, not realizing they wouldn’t get it (too young to have seen “Say Anything”), and I was wearing sneakers, but about half the kids were wearing Chuck Taylors and I thought to myself, “DAMNIT! I knew I should have worn my Chucks.” I wanted to fit in, not because I was trying to recapture my youth, but because I wanted to be relatable to the kids. I was shy and awkward until I realized I was one of the adults in the room… but that came into play later, when I was in charge of the high-schoolers.
At 5:30, we all ate tacos together, and then broke up into small groups so that we could put things we wanted to go into the covenant for the CCC youth group as a whole. I went up to the Rev. and asked her which group she’d like me to take, and she said, “you can either take the senior high or the junior high girls.” Since I’d been a high school Sunday School teacher before, I chose them. They’re kind of my favorite, because even though I’m good with any age, I haven’t forgotten what it was like to be in high school myself. It’s also a little bit easier for me to relate to people who are on the cusp of adulthood. I make jokes they might actually get… except for my “Jesus Loves You” shirt, apparently. Plus, junior high was so large that they divided up into boys and girls, while senior high was small, so it was coed.
The covenant is basically the set of rules we agree to live by in youth group, and we all had to come up with ideas that would then be taken all together and compiled into one list. My kids were great, but I was also proud of myself. I kept them from wandering too far with the conversation, saying “come on guys, focus” when I needed to and offered helpful suggestions, like, “have we covered drugs and alcohol? Have we covered cell phones?” Later on, I heard one of the parents say to Rev. Susannah that she loved how the senior high had come up with a framework, and I smiled to myself.
I’d known I’d be a good youth director, and getting to work with the senior high and hearing that feedback reinforced my belief. I also knew that I’d made the right move by volunteering, because even though I’m not getting paid, I am still earning street cred, and at this point, that’s worth more than money. Rev. Susannah is also her own blessing. I love that when I told her that I wanted to spend some time with her, actually get to know her, that she agreed. We’re going to go for coffee soon, and I can’t wait.
It is right now that I am learning the things I need to be able to fly solo, and I couldn’t have chosen a better group of kids with which to spend that time. One of these days, I’ll have my own youth group, and my own covenant with them. Right now it is enough for me to help Rev. Susannah create the group she wants to lead. Right now it is enough to ask, “what do you want me to do?” Learning how I can best serve now is learning how I can best lead later.
But next week, I am totally wearing my Chucks.