I just got home from teaching at a youth group for the first time ever!
I have to admit, it’s still slightly weird to me that someone would think of having me lead teenagers. Like, I’m barely out of my teen years, right? Then I realize: Right. I am 26. A decade or more older than everyone here. Amazing how quickly time flies!
It is mind-blowing how much one can learn from teaching. Sure, I’ve always heard that the best way to learn is to teach. I never doubted it. But still, it is so much more real when you actually do it – especially to a group in-person rather than online.
Here are a few things I learned in the process (in no particular order):
1.) God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called.
I am not a teacher. I am not a public speaker. Every time I’ve been tasked with speaking to a group my mind goes blank and my mouth goes dry and I feel like I can barely function. A BIG part of me in the back of my mind was screaming “WHAT were you thinking agreeing to teach at youth group!?”
That said, I knew that was exactly where I was meant to be tonight. So, I pushed forward (with many many prayers over the 25 minute drive there). In the end, not only was I able to be largely coherent, but it seems like some of what I said was actually very encouraging to them.
2.) God can (and does!) use our imperfections to His glory.
In a weird way, I’m thankful that I’m typically such an awkward public speaker. It forced me to rely on God. If I am good at something, I’m the sort of person who will eat up glory like it’s chocolate. Some people have issues with not seeing their own talent or self-worth; I tend more often to swing to the opposite extreme. But tonight? It wasn’t a great night at youth group because of me. I truly can only credit God for how it went down.
3.) I have an ego problem to battle.
I don’t say this to bash myself or because I have a low self-esteem, I say it because I realized just how opposed I am to feeling awkward in front of others. There were so many moments leading up to tonight when I would feel stressed out. Not because I was worried about what I would teach, but how I would look and sound while doing it. I was focusing too much on how I would be perceived and too little on how I could best serve the teens and God.
4.) It’s important to admit struggles, failings, and hard times.
The very best parts of tonight were the moments when the girls and I exchanged tales of difficult times. But it’s not enough to just say “Wow, that sucks, but God will carry you through if you trust Him.” and toss some scripture at it. Or at least, that’s how I always felt when folks have done that to me. So, I made it a point not to do that with them either.
Sure, I absolutely said how God worked in my life during a hard time – but also that it wasn’t some magic turnaround. It wasn’t and often isn’t a matter of “Just trust God and it will be fine”; It was a process that took me well over a year to get through and though it ended decently enough, it wasn’t a fairytale resolution either. In that moment, the girls and I really connected.
5.) It can be good to risk being bad at something.
It’s something I mulled over in my mind repeatedly: would I regret agreeing to teach the youth? What if I really, really sucked at it? But, a bigger question would always come back at me: would I regret not doing it?
Ultimately, if things went poorly and I turned out to be terrible at teaching, I could simply just not do it again. End of story. I could know, move forward, and learn from the experience! But if I let fear win and I chose not to, I would always wonder what might have happened.
In the end…
I guess it all went great! I mean, if one of the girls even hugs me before going home, it can’t be bad 🙂
There were times when my dialogue felt a little jumbled, but it wasn’t the worst thing ever. It’s still a little wild that God would call me to be a teacher, whether it’s a one-time thing or turns into more. It’s hard to describe the feelings I have about this (but I promise, they are good ones).