In my 13 years of working with High School students I have experienced the incredible blessing of watching my small group graduate twice, and one of them I had from grade 7-12. There is something about that bond, the relationships, the trust and discipleship that happens when you are with a group for that long.
This year I am having to say goodbye to my Senior guys group, but I wanted to share a short story about one of our leaders. Her name is Morgan and she is without embellishment one of the most gifted and talented small group leaders I have ever seen. Anywhere. She has led her girls from grade 7 – graduation and spent the last 6 years pouring herself into them. I have never seen a leader who involved her students into more elements of her life while maintaining a strong mentoring role. Never afraid to hold her girls accountable and call them out, and never shy with encouragement and prayer, she has walked side by side with these girls right through the finish line.
I am not sure that these girls fully understand the magnitude and significance of the last 6 years of being led by Morgan, but I pray one day they will understand. Understand the thousands of dollars she spent on them on coffees, meals, treats and gifts. The more than 1200 hours of her life that Morgan gave to them with NO expectation of anything in return. The countless hours she spent praying for them, calling, texting and pursuing them. The life of a volunteer youth worker is not easy, its often thankless but there are nights like this one that somehow make all the tough stuff go away.
On the last night of youth group, Morgan snuck out with her girls to one of the KidsMin classrooms, they promptly took their seats on the floor and Morgan read them Dr Seuss’ “Oh The Places You’ll Go”. They listened intently, and I hope that one day they reflect on that night. The culmination of a years of sacrifice and love coming together in a beautiful moment. The girls are heading off to University, some close, many far away but they will all share the common bond of spending these six years growing together.
I hope they understand how special this time has been
I hope they one day can fathom the work that God has done through their leader
I hope that Morgan can recognize how these girls lives are better because she served them
I sit here at my desk on the verge of tears because it is this picture that sums up the purpose of why we do what we do. A selfless adult leader who invests their life to teach young people about Jesus, to love them and and walk beside them as they transition from colouring to college and through all of it exuding grace and compassion.
Every year we have to say goodbye, and do so knowing they right behind them is another remarkable group of students destined to change the world for Christ.
As Natalie who captured this moment on instagram put it, “These are beautiful days we are living in” as leaders I pray that we can slow down enough to see that and that we can do our best to help our students embrace and experience what God has for them now.
“Oh The Places You’ll Go”