My worst fail was not youth-ministry-related, but it did happen in church. It involved an advent candle I forgot to blow out that led to a fire that burned part of the stage and caused the church to smell like smoke for a month. Let’s just say I haven’t lived that one down yet.
But that’s not the story I’m here to tell. The story is of a moment where I failed to recognize bad leadership in myself and ended up hurting a leader of mine.
Every Martin Luther King holiday weekend we make the trek to the mountains for a Ski Trip. This has been an annual trip that our student ministries have been doing even before I was on staff. I have kept with tradition because it’s a great trip. And we live in Florida. So I jump on any opportunity to take the students away from the beach and up to the mountains.
This is a very popular trip and typically we have to rent a vehicle or two. This particular time we rented a mini van, so I had two leaders in the church van and myself and another leader in the mini van. Now I don’t know if you have seen what mini vans are like currently, but they are nothing like the mini vans I grew up with in the 90s. Lets just say that there is a large difference between our 03’ cargo van and this 2015 mini van.
Since the van was rented in my name, I decided that I had to drive and be in the mini van, basically the whole trip. My issue started with my attitude: in hindsight I realize I had this “I paid my dues” attitude for much of the trip. Somewhere between Florida and West Virginia I decided I deserved to have a great trip and left my leadership behind. For instance, there were a few moments during the trip where I asked my leaders to stay back with some of the students who didn’t want to go back to the mountain for night skiing. My reasoning had nothing to do with those leaders in particular needing to stay back. It was all about me – I wanted to hit the slopes again!
One of the leaders I did this to is basically my “right hand Woman.” She makes me look way more organized than I really am and is always willing to help me. So when we had the post trip meeting to go over the highs and lows of the trip, much to my surprise, she had not had the great trip that I had. Thankfully she was honest with me and after a humbling and tear filled meeting, I was reminded that leading student ministries is not just serving the students, but serving my leaders also.