I’m the Teacher, Yet They’re Teaching Me

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“People brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” –Matthew 19:13-14

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When you hear people talk about children, it’s not usually in the context of them being responsible, highly accomplished, or wealthy. Usually, people talk about the cute things kids do, or the earnest things they say. Children are known for being honest beings, and I believe that is exactly why Jesus entrusts his kingdom to them.

As I have said before, this summer I have an internship with a youth pastor. Part of my job is to rebuild the youth group worship team that has been falling apart recently. I have been in several worship teams over the years in various capacities, and as I like to tell my students, “I have a lot of worship team wisdom to impart”. Though that is true, I have been learning as much, if not more, from these teens as they have been learning from me.

During the school year, I had a post-it by my door that said “WORSHIP HONESTLY”. This was advice given to me by my pastor, and now boss, Justin. We were having a conversation about feeling God’s presence and being self conscious while worshiping, when he told me that the most important thing was to worship from where you are– worship honestly.

CTA button for Blog UGI have never seen a better example of honest worship than these teens. They all have different talents, backgrounds, and skill levels, yet all have one thing in common: they’re all excited to worship Jesus. I tell them that it’s important to have a true and honest heart while worshiping, because their audience will see that and follow suit. This true and honest worship is no problem for these students. I see them get up on stage, and while it may not be the best musical performance Broadway has ever seen, it’s real, and it’s honest.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I would rather be led in worship by this somewhat rag-tag group of enthusiastic students than a put together church worship team. Because as Jimmy Needham says in his song Clear the Stage, “You can sing all you want to, and still get it wrong. Worship is more than a song.”

Loving God, Serving People, and Learning Always: The Life of a Youth Intern

This summer, I will be working a few jobs. The one I am most excited for is my internship. God has blessed me with an amazing opportunity to serve Him this summer as a youth intern for a Nyack alum, Justin Reese. Since I started this job just last week, I have been learning a great deal already; most recently in youth group Sunday school. This Sunday morning, God taught me two incredibly important things I will need in life, and particularly for my internship this summer.

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Me with my boss and role model, Justin Reese.

Since I go to Sunday school as a leader to these teens and pre-teens, the prominent goal in my mind is not to learn. I attend Sunday school to do my job– make relationships with this church’s students. We talk and joke around but when the lesson starts, it’s easy for me to block it all out with the mind set of “this doesn’t apply to me, it’s for the students”. But, this Sunday morning, God taught me quite the opposite.

As Justin got up to speak, and the students started to settle down, he grabbed our attention with the idea of a “God side” and a “people side” of our lives. He asked if, as believers, God will ever reject us. The students shook their heads in a corporate “no” since this answer seemed obvious enough. Next, Justin asked if people will ever reject us. The students nodded their heads “yes” wondering where exactly their youth pastor was going with this. “Is that why we spend most of our time trying to please people, and less time trying to please God? Because we feel like we have to earn people’s respect and love, but God’s will always be there?” This caused silence to fall over the room, because Justin had just brought up a serious truth. People– even believers– have the goal of pleasing people at the forefront of their mind most of the time. Justin then went on to make the point that, as Christians, our goal is to spend 100% of our time pleasing God, and 0% of it pleasing people. This doesn’t mean that we go around hating people and being bitter, but when we strive to please God, and only God, we will strive to please people too. The difference is that we will want to please our brothers and sisters, not to gain their approval, but rather out of our love for our Creator.

As I drove home from church that morning, I thought about how everything that God was trying to get through to me in that simple message. First of all, He made it incredibly clear that I will learn as much, if not more, from this internship than my students will. Beginning this job, I feel as if I am on the cusp of a very formative time in my life, and I need to be willing and ready to learn in all circumstances. Secondly, God also made it incredibly clear that my mission is to love and serve God this summer because that is when I will truly love my students and serve them to the best of my ability.

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