It was a tough hour and 50 minutes.
Our student ministry had our annual ministry celebration of seniors last night in which we allow each one of them 5 minutes to say whatever they want. I’m always intrigued by the things people say.
A few observations:
Several senior girls gave advice to the younger ladies not to “settle” for a boyfriend…but to seek Christ first and trust Him instead of caving in on what you believe so you won’t spend Friday nights alone. It’s fabulous advice. I wonder how many underclassmen will apply it.
It’s always funny when somebody pulls a prank a long time ago, other people get accused over the time frame, and then the people who pulled it off (and, even more astonishingly, kept it a secret for so long) admit it to the group. The looks on the faces those who got punk’d is priceless.
The emotions teenagers exude are easily picked up and transferred to one another. The teens accept each other and respect each other on this night, and if a teen reads a poem or gets emotional or speaks from the heart, the other teens kinda “pull” for the one in the chair. They want to hear them, and give each other an uncommon respect. Very cool.
It’s hard being a teenager. Some of the stresses they bring up from an adult perspective may seem trivial and silly, but the stress they feel and the pressure that comes from that is every bit as real as the stress and pressure grown-ups feel. I wish more grown ups didn’t dismiss their experiences so quickly, even if years of experience have proven those earlier events so trivial in their own lives.
They quoted movies. They quoted Scripture. They talked of stupid choices (or lack thereof) and lessons learned. They shared inside jokes. They cried. They laughed. They gave out coupons for hugs. They thanked their Bible study leaders. They were nervous and scared and excited and everything in between. They talked about lessons learned and stuff they wish they’d done. The topics, much like the teens, were all over the map during the meeting time. I enjoyed it.
As a youth pastor, I’m always floored by the teens perceptions of me. Granted, the ones speaking had years of interaction with me, but I’m always amazed at how much of my life they zero in on and pick up that encourages them. One last night was even thankful for the reality that I didn’t have a stupid Christian bumper sticker on my car like other youth pastors. They’re perceptive right down to that level. I see this as good as well as scary.
Speaking of that, this class even gave me a gift. I don’t remember making a big point out of it, but one day I quoted something our pastor said in a sermon series on Ecclesiastes. You know, that book that has the oft-quoted section of things like “A time to plant, a time to harvest, a time to dance, a time to mourn, etc.” Then our pastor said something like, “Wisdom is knowing what time it is.” Hence, they gave me a watch. And not just any watch. It’s from the Ten Boom watchmaking shop in Holland…and the Ten Booms were major players during the Dutch resistance to the Nazi regime in WWII. They got me an extremely rare watch (something like only 5 in the world) with the name “Ten Boom” on the face, and it’s the kinda thing I’m really into.
But that gift really typified this class. They were teachable. They were learning things in their own unique way, picking up things that helped them that I wasn’t aware I was focusing on (or that they were, either), and giving each other the freedom to be diverse. They got to know me…to the degree that wearing a watch designed by descendants of people who were following God and making a difference in their little corner of the world would be precisely the kind of thing I’d be honored to wear. They “got” me. That is cool.
It is time for them to graduate. It’s time for them to move on, and grow more in the next four years than they did in the first 18. It’s time for others to push them further in their growth and build on my foundation. It’s time for them to go.
But I’ll still miss my seniors of 2005…precisely because they knew, and know, what time it is.