Today’s blog is written by Liz Guyer, one of our Student Life leaders. We are so thankful for her heart in wanting to see our next generation grow deeper in their faith.
I’ve been a youth leader for two years now and when I was asked to write a blog post on our experience at Episode I was so jazzed to share my experience with our church family. But the truth is, the best way for me to share all that went down in that incredible weekend is to write an open letter to our students. A letter from me personally sharing my heart of gratitude and all that they mean to me. I’d like to invite you into our ministry for just a minute, to get a glimpse of what it’s like to work with youth.
This weekend at Episode there were 27 of you, 8 of us (leaders). We’re certainly outnumbered but that doesn’t even matter because you carry yourselves in a way that needs little to no guidance from us leaders. Time and again you make me proud to wear a nametag that says “The Point” because you exemplify Jesus to the other students here, you take notes and listen diligently during the sessions, and you respect other leaders from different churches. You are the kind of students I love to claim as my own, whether you are on stage racking up points for the Yellow team in crazy games or running up to the stage to sing worship songs. This weekend was my third time to Episode and each group we take brings me a different experience.
My first year I wasn’t even a youth leader, just an extra warm body to keep you crazies in line. Last year I was on a knee scooter with a broken foot and leading six girls on my own. This year I had both of my feet (Praise the Lord) and a co-leader in Ashton. But what I really want to say to you is this: You keep me coming back for more sleep deprived, ridiculous nights eating mostly cereal at meals and you draw me closer to God. When you ask questions that are off script, ones that are on your heart rather than the open ended ones on my guide, you get me to stretch myself to learn more about Him as I research and dig and look over scripture to help you find the answers you’re looking for. Thank you for that.
When I see you get excited about taking your faith life into your own hands, you remind me that we serve a God who is exciting and then I got motivated to dive into my relationship with Him all over again. Thank you for that. When you look to me for advice or guidance, when you genuinely want to sit next to me during sessions or get up on chairs and dance with me in the lecture hall, or play a crazy loud game of big booty (it’s not what it sounds like) for everyone to see and hear you affirm that this is in fact my calling and greatest joy. Thank you for that.
I hope you know how fiercely this event was prayed over. How many hours were logged in preparation for you. And I don’t say that for the recognition or affirmation but because I want you to know how loved you are. Not just by me. But the seven others that put their lives on hold to spend a weekend with you. There is nothing greater I can do with my time than pour into y’all. It is a gift and a calling to be a part of your lives and to experience your walk in faith.
For the boys in my van on the way home, thank you for showering that morning. And for playing my silly card question game. And for singing backstreet boys and Taylor Swift. I’m sorry I got hangry, but thank you for humbling me quickly and reminding me to be selfless. That you guys are my highest priority. Thank you to all our students for loving me as one of your leaders. And all the praise hands to God for quietly pushing me to step in obedience to work with youth, for letting me be along for the ride. This privilege is not one I take lightly. I have loved every late night devo session, early morning wake up calls, running in the rain to get to the dining hall, getting you into picture formation and telling you to close your eyes because the sun is “SO BRIGHT” until we were ready for our photo op.
I love being your leader and I love getting to watch you grow through our time at Episode. I hope I have several more years to enjoy these retreats with you but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s to be present and enjoy the moments you do have. So I’m holding onto the memories of this one fiercely and reliving every laughable overwhelming and insane moment. Special shout out to team yellow for coming in clutch in that final relay game and for bringing home the battle of the (taco) bell. You guys are seriously the best.
If you would like to get involved with our StudentLife ministry email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how you can serve!