This is part two, of three, of an open letter to all going to camp/those serving in a ministry this summer. In the first post we covered how important it is that you’re motivated by the Gospel, in that, you constantly dwell on the grace given to you. Next we covered that Jesus doesn’t need you. You are not taking the hill for Jesus. Why? Cause that is not biblical. Be liberated and know that Jesus is rather showing you that you can participate with Him in bringing the message of reconciliation to middle schoolers who deeply need to hear the grace you are reveling in. Lastly, I advised that you actively stir your affections for Jesus so that your joy would increase and you love Jesus more at the end of the summer than the start.
We are going to try and cover the part two in this post. I think that we can both agree that the last post was pretty long and both of us skimmed it.
So lets get to work.
The next segment you will want to keep in check is interacting with your co-laborers. This whole summer you will be thrown into a team that you would not have picked. Some other counselors, or support staff, will get on your nerves and you may want to punch them in the mouth. I suggest refraining from that.
It is actually a really cool team to be a part of. Serving in the body of Christ, for His glory, brings together people from all walks of life. Usually it is people you would not have gotten a chance to get to know outside of camp, church, youth group, or a parachurch ministry.
You are united in Christ
As you interact with people from other walks of life. (And when I say other walks of life, I mean that a suburban white kid could be really good friends with a brother from the hood. Yeah. It’s pretty cool.) Remember that you are united together in Christ.
Not in this cheesy way, because it is not cheesy. Colossians declares over and over again that we are “in Christ.” So if I am in Christ, and you are in Christ it would make sense to actually act like we are in Christ towards each other.
Therefore this takes care of the whole gossip and slander that can tear a summer staff apart. I have seen it first hand, and unfortunately been a perpetuator of such divisive measures. You are both in Christ! Both are part of His body. What if the hand punched the other arm? How would either hands serve well? Answer: they wont.
You bear a unity with other Christians that is stronger than blood. The body of Christ will celebrate with you in heaven, it doesn’t make sense to destroy that unity here on earth through gossip and slander or any other depraved thing we succumb to. You are not a pre-teen girl so don’t act like one.
You don’t see the whole picture
This one and the next one probably hit home the most for me. I have done violence to a lot of my relationships by thinking that I knew the whole picture when in fact I did not. This happened even last summer. Several times. I acted against something someone said because I did not think that was the actual situation, turns out it was and I was a fool and wrong and needed to repent. Jesus is working on that with me.
You will probably hear this in staff training and when you do the exercise illustrating that you don’t see the whole picture, you will probably roll your eyes (especially if you’re in High School, your eyes will roll like a bobble head) thinking that it is stupid. However, it really does help. Know that you have a viewpoint more like a microscope than a telescope. No matter how much you think you know, you probably don’t see the big picture.
Come single, leave single
Okay so I readily admitted in the stirring that I loved the church when I was younger because I thought that Christian girls were hot. In staff training you’ll hear “if you come single we want you to leave single.” It sounds totally lame and like it cramps your style. However what I’ve learned is: 1) You don’t have style. 2) There is some wisdom to it all.
Though it seems like these are the only solid Christian guys and girls in the world it comes back to the fact that your vision is skewed. And frankly, that is not true. You can ask anyone who I worked at camp with me, year after year I spurned this and thought it was ridiculous they encouraged no finding a “mate” during the summer.
I can tell you confidently, with a clear head, that they again were right. There seems to be a pattern. Though there are stories of people meeting during camp, falling in love, and growing old together, I would not encourage you to be that anomaly. Generally, they met and dated after the summer not during.
But either way, my encouragement is to not be distracted by that. Focus on showing the Gospel to your kids and bringing the message of reconciliation. Show your campers that there is room at the foot of the cross for them to fall on their faces in worship right beside you. I don’t want to be dogmatic but it is really easy to be preoccupied and distracted. You only have 1 week with each set of campers, stay the course. They need to be shown the satisfaction, glory, and majesty of Jesus more than you need a wife or husband.
Be quick to repent
If it was not for the Gospel, I would have no right to write about this. Coupled with “you don’t see the whole picture” I have failed at quickly repenting. Over and over again I have sinned against a brother or sister and decided best to be a coward and save face or try to ignore the problem hoping that it will fox itself; they never do.
This is more even a general thing (and could just as easily apply to the heart segment when in our battle against sin we quickly repent) to apply everywhere to all relationships. It sounds really easy: when you sin against someone, you repent.
Yeah not so much. Well, that is right. But it is a whole lot harder than that. Why? Because we deceive ourselves…especially when it comes to relationships. We convince ourselves that even IF we were in some wrong their wrong is greater and the burden of repentance falls on them. Or we think that we really did not do any wrong thus thrusting the repentance again on their shoulders. It is THEM that needs to change. It is THEM that needs to repent. It is THEM that needs to be sorry. It is THEIR fault. It is a whole lot of THEM talk. Curiously, none of the responsibility falls on our shoulders in those situations.
Or, if you are like me, you just ignore the problem. I am a guy. Sometimes I just kinda figure that if I ignore it the problem will take care of itself—wrong. I have done that at camp, at school, at home and it never works. But like a dog returning to its vomit…
So I am preaching at myself here, but if you feel wronged in any way or that you have wronged someone in any way be quick to repent. Let yourself be filled with the spirit and ask Him to convict you of sin against others.
Even go the extra step, if there is someone at camp who gets on your nerves—for whatever reason—write them an encouragement note or pray that they would have a fresh experience of God’s grace.
If you have served on a ministry or at camp, is there anything crucial I am leaving out? What are ways that you could cultivate unity? Who is it that you need to quickly repent to?
Stay tuned for the last part of this letter where we will deal with the campers.