I was afforded the unique opportunity to hang out with some Christian leaders recently. Some of whom were older and wiser in their faith, spiritual giants you might say, and what I witnessed in their interactions with others was astounding. We had several days together, but I began to see the difference in some rather immediately. Two of the leaders, who had years of following Jesus and Christian leadership under their belts, took a few newbies under their wings almost immediately. They began to look at scripture with these new leaders, pose questions and discuss the realities of their faith journey with them. I watched it continue and grow throughout our days together. I saw the change in those young, new leaders. I saw a fire begin to light in their eyes as they discussed God's Word and their faith with these giants, an acknowledgment that they too could follow God like these older and wiser leaders. I saw them grow bolder and stronger in their leadership, and more confident in their faith. I began to wonder, what keeps so many of us from learning this lesson, from following this example?
But maybe the thing that shook my faith the most, the thing that brought me to my knees and made me begin to plead with God to know Him more deeply were not those whose faith had grown and matured over the years, but those whose were brand new. I met a man a few days in who was new to leadership, new to his faith. He was sharing how he stays connected to Christ as his source through worship. He began to share how he constantly repeats the words of his favorite worship songs in his head, day and night, as prayers of worship to Christ his Savior. He began to share how by praying these songs of praise, he keeps his eyes on Christ and his heart in the right place. It's so simple really, why don't more of us do this? Surely we understand the purpose of worship, so why do we end it with a song sung on Sunday morning? Later in our days together this leader led our group in prayer, and his heart for praise was so evident that all of us were held in a sense of awe and desire to know the God he knows.
That same day, I met a young woman who was a newbie, but not one of those under the mentorship of the leaders of old. She had instead taken on another new young leader, one who was struggling to keep up and feeling intimidated by those so much more mature and advanced in their faith. This newbie led by watching the example of those who have traveled the road before her, posing the same questions as the mentors, having the same conversations about faith and the Word of God. She did not have the spiritual maturity of the others, but I watched the fire grow in her eyes and the eyes of the one she mentored just the same. In her free time, she did not play games, rest, or chat like the rest of us. She was deep in the scriptures, and meeting with the organizers, the highest leaders and teachers, then she would be back leading among the other new and young leaders like herself. Do I have this same fire, this same fervor to learn and share what I have learned? Her hunger for God was like none I had witnessed in quite a while. It refreshed me, convicted me and called me to something higher all at once. I am so thankful for those days, so grateful for what I have been taught and for the new fire I now have.
The most interesting thing of all is it was at Kids Camp. The oldest and most mature of leaders, those spiritual giants, were ten and eleven years old. They had maybe been believers for a year or two. Those two new leaders, both made decisions of faith during the week. Myself and the other adult leaders with me were astonished at the leadership that was present in these young believers. Every year at camp I feel as though I learn as much as I teach. Of course, that is not true for every kid or at every moment, because faith is a journey that looks much more like a roller-coaster than an uphill climb. But each year I'm reminded that spiritual maturity is (or should be) easier and more consistent the longer that we are on that journey, but that isn't always the case, and there is much to be learned from the heart of a new believer.
I meant what I said, the questions I've posed to myself, I pose to you now. I pray that we can all learn mentorship, an awe for God and a hunger to know Him from these young leaders. The Kingdom of Heaven surely does belong to such as these.