The Leadership in Leaving: An Open Letter to My Youth
I often find myself wishing I could tell my younger self some things about how life really works, about what’s real and true, so I could dissolve some of the harmful preconceptions and assumptions I had way back then when I was an apprehensive 14-year-old who stepped onto Canadian soil knowing the unknowing was about to happen.
It's a frustrating impossibility, but it’s worth thinking about.
And actually, being a part of youth leadership has provided me a great amount of those answers I would have told my younger self, with the best two points being:
Set your heart on the Truth.
Being raised in a Christian home, I thought I had a good relationship with Christ, but the relocation of a new environment and culture tested that. To have been pushed and appointed into youth leadership within a year of walking into my local church was no less than an unexpected, yet life-changing act by God. To provide leadership to individuals the same age as I (which at first was awkward) meant the tagline "Do as I do, not as I say" had to come into effect. In order to be an effective youth leader, I had to unashamedly demonstrate my own faith in action as an example.
You are nobody, yet you are the chosen and called.
Mature spirituality starts with the quality of unselfish servanthood. I remember spending many sleepless nights in tears, wishing my world didn't have to come to a crashing halt, hating the country I had to now call home. If I could, I would tell that naive teen to looks at life with a larger perspective beyond the surface. I would remind her that there's another individual who suffers from despondency, to stop giving herself a hard time, to remind her that she's a chosen one, a princess under the guidance of the holy King, his precious daughter (1 Peter 2:9). Being a youth leader has given me the rewards of giving up my own will and laying aside my rights in order to serve others, selflessly. It taught me that servanthood requires a mental shift, a change in attitude, and an acceptance not to think less of myself but to think of myself less.
So for the past 7 years when I have been leading and eventually mentoring these young women, my heart has strived to give them a firm understanding of what it means and what it takes to overcome the growing pains of their teenage years.
Whether it's to see them start their own bible study at school, invite a friend to youth, or to simply continue our conversation throughout the week, I smile and get a sense of fulfillment that my work in this ministry has not been in vain.
I could have left the ministry or taken a break in between, but my heart could never do it. From graduating high school, entering university, getting my first job to now being a professional working woman the past few years, it has been a joy to give back to my girls, throughout different stages of my life.
But God, who loves to add disruptions into our lives, leads us in a certain direction or in pursuit of a precise goal. That leading is unmistakably clear. Not necessarily logical or explainable, but clear. At least to the son or daughter He is speaking to. So, out of sheer obedience, we go. We face a future as uncertain as our leading is sure.
Following our 2016 Pursu1t summer camp, my heart continues to cry as I resign from youth ministry to pursue the calling He has for me to spend time preparing for another stage in my life - higher education.
I want to walk by faith now and leave the future completely in His capable hands. I know that He’ll take care of the things you and I don’t know how to handle.
We don't need to know the truth about tomorrow, but we do need to live the truth we know today, because our security and peace is in His name.
As I look back and reflect on His protection and grace to each of us, it sets in motion the mental attitude that will carry us through the days ahead.
Although I am unable to commit to the ministry, I will never leave my commitment to being an influence and leader to the young women of our church and to those around me.
It has been a challenging and humbling 7 years, but it has been a rewarding and fulfilling 7 years.