In the process of starting two different Young Life ministries this year, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I’m trying to accomplish. What is my main objective? What do I hope to establish? It’s not often that you get to start something from nothing so I want to be wise and intentional with these beginnings.
I haven’t landed exactly on an answer, but I think it has to do with creating a culture around what it means to “have a YL Leader.”
Yes, being a YL Leader is awesome. One of the awesomest things you can do with your time and your life. But I think having a YL Leader is even better. And certainly more important.
Having a YL Leader means you have someone doing life with you. This person is invested in your comings and goings, in the questions and desires and hurts of your life. Having a YL Leader is not a natural part of the way the world works (hence why it’s necessary to establish it as “normal,” perhaps even “cool,” in a high school/middle school setting).
And If you haven’t caught on, this person doesn’t (in any way, shape, or form) need to be connected to Young Life. And you don’t have to be a teenager to need one. Having a YL Leader more or less means having a mentor. But (surprise, surprise!) I don’t really like the word mentor – it’s too structured and official sounding, both contrary to the heart of Young Life.
I recently realized that I have a lot of Young Life Leaders in my life right now. Seriously, a lot. And it’s awesome! So here are some of my thoughts on having one:
Think of someone in your life: who is older. whose life you admire. who you can see at least a couple times a year. who is in a different life stage from you. who has an interesting job or family or hobby. whose perspective you respect. who is wise. who you may be the slightest bit nervous to approach.
Then: ask this person to get coffee or lunch. shadow him/her at work. invite yourself over for dinner. spend time in this person’s home with his/her family. offer to babysit. ask questions. ask more questions. listen well and take good mental notes. watch a game, make dinner, run errands or do crafts together.
Do whatever it takes to have your life intersect with this person. Be creative. Be intentional. Be politely insistant if necessary.
This isn’t a structured or even a spoken arrangement. (That’s the beauty of Young Life.) And there is no limit to how many people you can pursue in this way. Not every one of them may stick, but at the very least you could get a free cup of coffee out of it! And don’t get discouraged. This is a skill, a craft, that may take time, patience, and practice to get right.
Do you have a Young Life Leader? If not, I think finding one could become one of the most important aspects in your personal growth and life journey.