As Summer Training Project approaches, the leaders, both veteran and first-time, tend to shake in their proverbial boots. Questions that would have normally never entered their mind now seem to flood their heads with anxiety and worry.
“Do I have what it takes? Will I know what to say? What do I do if someone in my rooms runs in crying and asking me about hard things?”
Churches, youth groups, and Sunday school classes make it seem like a piece of cake, but leading a group of college students is anything but easy. There are so many variables and unknowns. Some might flaunt the fact that they have been to two or three projects already, but when push comes to shove, they are just as scared as the next person. This is one of the main reasons that Staff at Campus Outreach decided to do leader’s retreat in the first place; they want students to be able to slow down and understand what leadership at Summer Training Project is all about, and for most leaders, it is exactly the opposite of what they assumed.
The sad truth for every leader on the trip is that there is nothing that they can do to save a student that is going on the trip, but this seemingly sad truth is also the most freeing truth that any of the leaders will ever hear – the freedom of self-forgetfulness.
Tim Keller, a Pastor and Author that shepherds Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, wrote a book about the Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, and Devin Smith, Staff for Campus Outreach, spoke to some of the students about the freedom that is found in serving Christ.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul exhorts the Church in Corinth.
“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it."
Believers must understand that their striving is never for their own good. Believers share the gospel with others because God put the words in their mouths. If Jesus had not made it possible to love God, humanity would never have picked him. Because of this truth, believers have no right or reason to take pride in their leadership abilities or decision to lead freshman and sophomore students for a summer.
Therefore, students are then completely free to love the Lord because there is no weight on them to succeed. Jesus finished it. He died and resurrected. The battle is won. There is no need for worry or fear of failure surrounding leading groups of college students, because Jesus gave his life and took the wrath of God so that humanity could be in relationship with God.
The application for these leaders that are about to step out in faith this summer is that Jesus already took the weight of sin and the responsibility of salvation, so all they have to do is walk by faith that Jesus will finish the work that He started.
Remember, these same leaders were at one point dead in their sins, but because of God’s love, they can be alive in Christ.